Celebrating throughout 2022 

13th February 2022 - celebrating 30th Anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with Australia and Croatia.

Australia recognised Croatia on 16 January 1992, following its declaration of independence on the 25 June 1991.

Diplomatic relations were established on 13 February 1992. 

The City of Perth shone brightly in red and white checkers to mark the 30th anniversary of the recognition of the Republic of Croatia and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Croatia and Australia. The Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce celebrated the event with community leaders and political leaders by lighting up Council House, the Bell tower and (thanks to the WA Department of Transport) Matagarup Bridge in Croatian colours.

The festivities celebrated the establishment of diplomatic relations between Croatia and Australia on February 13, 1992. This followed the sitting of the first democratically elected government in Croatia on May 30, 1990 after 45 years of communist rule. The subsequent declaration of independence a little over a year later, on June 25, 1991, resulted in a war of aggression that saw one-third of Croatia’s territory occupied in a conflict that would not end until 1995.

Croatians remain proud that Australia was amongst the group of nations that stood behind Croatian independence and established early diplomatic relations with the Republic of Croatia. As then-Prime Minister Paul Keating said in a statement on January 16, 1992: “Australia has decided to recognise as independent states the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia and Croatia. Slovenia and Croatia have met the conditions set out by the EC on 16 December 1991 ..” 

Croatia today exists as a fully fledged member of the European Union and NATO, a popular tourist destination, and a country renowned for its sporting success on the world stage, as well as its advances in technology and the EV market with the RIMAC. It shares Australia’s values, along with growing trade and investment links in areas such as IT, the Australian EU free trade agreement, and expanding cultural and education exchanges.

The Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce was fortunate to share celebrations with some individuals from the Croatian community and the Australian political landscape who were active participants in that process, along with representatives of the Croatian government and various Croatian community groups. 

Phil Walleystack a leading Entertainer and singer songwriter and a Noongar man performed the welcome to country. He is also the CEO of the Indigenous Arts Foundation, identifying and developing indigenous talent for the Australian community. His father Trevor performed an aboriginal smoking ceremony to promote the protection and well-being of visitors. Trevor also named the Matagarup Bridge.

Representing the Government of the Republic of Croatia in Perth was Consul General Mr Zoran Sangut. Also present was Consulate of the Republic of Croatia in Perth, Mr Ivor Condic, Consul Third Class. Representing the City of Cockburn, sister city of the City of Split in Croatia, was His Worship the Mayor Logan Howlett and his wife Pat, along with Councillor of the City of Stirling Tony Krsticevic who served as the member of Carine in the Western Australia Legislative Assembly from the 2008 State election till 2021 for the Liberal party. 

Speaking on behalf of the members of the former board for the Establishment of the Croatian Consulate in Perth was Marinko Pecotic, present with his wife Jackie. Markino spoke about the establishment of the Croatian Consulate in Perth and the efforts that went into fundraising to purchase the current consulate premises on St Georges Terrace. Marinko was the former treasurer of that board and Croatian community lobbyist who was awarded the Order of the Croatian Interlace in 1995 by President Tudman. (Red Hrvatskog Pletera), bestowed upon foreign and domestic nationals for their distinguished contribution to the development and reputation of the Republic of Croatia and its citizens. Former City of Cockburn Councillor responsible for establishing Sister City relationship with Split in Croatia.

After the establishment of diplomatic ties, there was a call to establish business ties between Australia, and in particular Western Australia and Croatia. The Foundation President of the Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Mr Brian Rakich, spoke about the challenges back then and events that occurred over the last century.

Former Federal Member Mr Paul Filing, Liberal member for Moore back in 1990, was a founding member and Secretary of the Parliamentary Group for Slovenia and Croatia who travelled to Zagreb in 1991 to assess the situation in Croatia and had meetings with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and Foreign Minister Zvonimir Separovic. Via zoom Paul discussed his experiences and the journey leading towards recognition.

Also attending via zoom was Michael Hatton, former Member for Blaxland 1996-2007 in NSW, who was an electorate officer for the Prime Minister Paul Keating at the time of Croatian independence and recognition. Lidia Kukulj interviewed Michael Hatton as he discussed with WA Croatian Chamber of Commerce President Luke Jurcevic the events leading up to recognition and the gala ball 30 years ago. Luke revealed how Michael Hatton was his English teacher and how, with Paul Keating, they all went to the same school at De La Salle Bankstown. Michael recalled the support and passion within the Croatian community over the years as well as that historical event at the Regent Hotel. In the statement by Paul Keating "My government will seek discussions with the new states on establishing diplomatic relations". Luke discussed the appointment of the first Croatian General Consulate in Australia Dr Konstantin Bosnic and the amazing services he provided to the community. As well as how he saved Luke's life when he was a teenager as his family doctor.

Amongst other Croatian organisations and associations attending was Dean Zlendic President and Alan Pecotic, Vice President of the Western Knights/Croatia North Perth Soccer Club; and Anthony Radich and Darlene Gianoli representing the Lado Croatian Folkloric Ensemble. Raymond Pecotic was MC for the event as well as committee member of the Croatian Folkloric Group Zagreb, representing President Zrinka Vlasic. From Gwelup Croatia President Jure Denona and Laura Denona Hrvatksi Dom and Anthony Sumich from the WA Croatian Community Centre were an apology. Fran Jelavic Roberts - Vice President of the WA Croatian Chamber of Commerce and Aus-NZ Croatian Women in Leadership WA board member also attended. An amazing acapella of the Australian and Croatian National Anthems by Anita Varga Finneran and spine tingling entertainment performance throughout the night.

The President of the Western Australian Croatian Chamber of Commerce, Luke Jurcevic, who is also one of three elected members from Australia to the Council of the Government of the Republic of Croatia for Croats outside of Croatia, discussed the current state of change within the business communities across WA, Asia, Europe, North and South America. As well as the announcement of future planned local community events. “These initiatives are spread across the year, all part of our 30th Anniversary celebrations in Perth, Australia. Looking forward to events at the Hrvatski Dom Gwelup, WA Croatian Community Centre, Perth Stadium, Carnarvon Croatian festival and Swan Valley Celebration showcasing and celebrating the 30th Anniversary across our Croatian communities.

It was also great to have a virtual celebration message from the Victorian Croatian Chamber of Commerce. Looking forward in virtually connecting with states across Australia, Canada and across North and South America with some of our planned celebrations this year. Proud to have discussed these initiatives already with them. People have said our City of Perth Council House light show in red and white checkers, Croatian colours with the Bell tower and (thanks to the Department of Transport) Matagarup Bridge connecting to Perth Stadium are world firsts for celebrating Croatia".

"Proud of Perth - Perthect”, said Luke Jurcevic.

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