October 8, the Croatian Independence Day is an important holiday not only in Croatia but also, for the Croatians living all over the world, including those in Hungary. It was on this day in 1991 that a significant step in the disintegration of Yugoslavia was taken, i.e. it was then that the Parliament of the independent Croatia started working. Due to the one thousand years of intertwined history of the Croatian and Hungarian nations, this holiday also offers us Hungarians an opportunity to commemorate the close and brotherly relations between our countries and nations.
The centuries of the Middle Ages and the modern era were characterized by common frameworks of state organization, a basically common religion, the joint struggle against the Turkish invasion and the intensive cultural, commercial and everyday relations between our nations. Croatia and the Croatians have always acted as a bridge to the Mediterranean region and the sea for Hungarians. Hungarian king Béla IV took refuge on the Dalmatian islands when he was escaping from the Mongol invasion, the Italian Renaissance found its way to Hungary through Dalmatian intermediation and it may not be a coincidence either that the most popular tourist attraction for Hungarians is still Croatia.
The Croatian national minority living in Hungary as a constituent element of the state is a very close-knit community. The constitutional rights to nationality education, the use of mother tongue, as well as cherishing cultural identity are exercised by the Croatians living in Hungary through their extensive system of national minority self-governments and institutions.
Hungary was one of the first to recognize the reviving independent Croatian state in 1991. Croatia’s accession to the community of the European Union was also accompanied by unanimous support from Hungary’s side. The European integration aimed at achieving economic prosperity and the preservation of peace in Europe also carries the inherent opportunity for both countries and their citizens to mutually cherish and strengthen the identities and survival of their nationalities worthy of the traditions of the thousand-year Croatian-Hungarian relations.
Dr. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay, Prof. HC
Professor, Deputy Ombudsman