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The President of the Republic At a dinner hosted by President of the Republic of Croatia H.E. Mr. Stepan Mesic and Mrs. Milka Mesic in honour of the President of the Republic of Estonia and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel Zagreb, February 8, 2006

Honourable Mr. President,
Honourable Mrs. Mesic,
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen!

Allow me to thank the Republic of Croatia for the invitation. On behalf of myself, my wife and the whole delegation I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your cordial reception.

Your friendly people and rapidly advancing country have made a very deep impression on us. History, full of ordeals, does not hand out free gifts, but it has certainly sharpened our eyes so that we can see what is the right way and who are our friends. Nature has given a lot to Croatia. You have mountains, picturesque seacoasts as well as numerous islands. The days we have spent in Croatia have helped us to understand why your people call their homeland “our beautiful” and why your national anthem begins with those words.

My visit to Croatia is a continuation to your visit to Estonia in April 2003. During your visit to Estonia you said that both Estonia and Croatia have to contribute to establishing closer ties between South and North Europe. I share your viewpoint, and we are here today to continue that work.

This is why also ministers and a business delegation are accompanying me on this visit. I am confident that the contacts established here will be beneficial and will lead to deepening of relations between our countries and help to get more comprehensive knowledge about each other.

Tourism is certainly among those areas, which play a significant role in development of our economic relations. We are pleased that the interest of Croatian tourists towards Estonia as a country of destination is growing. Also tours to Croatia are becoming more and more popular among Estonians.

Mr. President,

Estonia gives its support for Croatia’s EU and NATO integration aspirations. We are convinced that it will enhance stability and wellbeing in the whole of Europe. In the case of Estonia, the prospect of the EU accession facilitated the launching of comprehensive reforms in our society. At the same time it focalized the activities and goals of the entire state administration.

We have accumulated valuable experience from the accession process, and we are ready to share it with Croatia. We are deeply impressed seeing how seriously Croatia has taken the task of building-up a knowledge-based society, and introducing timesaving and environmentally friendly e-Governance.

Probably you agree with me when I say that the decision made by our countries to move towards the EU and NATO membership was a knowledgeable and well-calculated choice. For both of us it has been determined by our historical experience and political realities of today. We cannot afford that the situation, which was forced upon us following the World War II when we had to be in a role of isolated and voiceless spectators would repeat itself.

Those integration processes will strengthen our security, broaden the possibilities of our economy and enhance general well-being of our people. But there is still a gnawing question that keeps coming up: what will happen to our language and our way of life, our two small nations navigating in the common European ocean. How to remain who we are in this diverse and demanding environment?

This is why I attach such an importance to the cooperation between two small countries. We get support from an understanding that the source of the state’s vitality is rather its cultural heritage, spiritual strength and education of its people, than the size of its population. Sharing that understanding we can support and help each other. Both, Estonia and Croatia, have gained experience how to survive, and we could share it with others. I can say this with confidence and full of hope being here in Zagreb in the year that is a jubilee year of Nikola Tesla, an outstanding Croatian-born scientist who is known all over the world.

I am sure you know that Estonia has traditionally been closely cooperating both with the Baltic as well as with the Nordic countries. For us the Nordic-Baltic cooperation continues to be very important and I believe that such regional cooperation could be interesting also to Croatia, as many aspects of it are applicable also on the Balkan Peninsula.

Mr. President!

In the modern world the distances have become shorter. There is still the same number of kilometres separating our two countries, but the achievements in technology enable us to communicate with each other as easily as if we were in the same room. We just need to find a common language of communication.

The interaction between different cultures, ways of life and mentalities is a source of mankind’s creativity. Technologies are being standardized, but cultures retain their individuality. The difference between cultures is not a force that pulls them apart; it is a force that attracts them. The most valuable by-product of that process is stability and security. Therefore, as I am convinced that we have already found a common language, I look to future with optimism.

I believe, Mr. President, that through acting together it would be possible to develop a harmonious partnership, promote closer ties between our people, and make efforts for the sake of coping with today’s problems and challenges.

I invite all of you to join in the toast and raise your glasses in honour of the President of the Republic of Croatia and Mrs. Mesic, to the prosperity of Croatia and to close cooperation between our two countries and peoples.

To your health!

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l