“We survived the past, won in present, the future belongs to us”

The course of events culminating on 15 January 1992 was preceded by a long diplomatic struggle fought in international forums, concurrently with the defensive war waged throughout its territory.

In the country torn by aggression and war, with a large part of the territory under the enemy control, whose citizens remained in cellars, shelters or battlefields throughout the country for months or were expelled from their homes the date of the international recognition – 15 January 1992 – appeared as the ancient promised definite victory, and justice hovering over the pain and suffering.   That day the Republic of Croatia became an internationally recognised and independent European state.

The first President of Croatia dr.  Franjo Tuđman said in the famous televised statement: “This day – January 15, 1992 – will be engraved in gold letters in the 14-century-long history of the Croatian people on this sacred soil bordered by the Mura, the Drava, the Danube and the Adriatic.

Having declared its independence and sovereignty, and severing all ties with the former Yugoslav Federation, the Republic of Croatia has achieved international recognition of its independence,and preserved its national identity throughout the history, defying all difficulties. By recognising Croatia Europe realised itself too in the new era of democracy and of self determination of the peoples. Croatia – independent and sovereign – will not betray Europe, to which it belongs, and the free world.

The news reversed for a brief the grim war reality into a new blissful state, leading to an outpour of emotions and celebration throughout the country. Although the Homeland War was still at full swing, and a third of the territory occupied and inaccessible to the constitutional order, the list of countries recognising Croatia officially grew steadily and poured in a new hope and enthousiasm.

First recognition – by Iceland

On 15 January 1992 the Republic of Croatia was recognised as sovereign and independent state by all members of then European Economic Community:  Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and Bulgaria, Canada, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Switzerland followed suit.

The recognition for Croatia was from Iceland, on 19 December 1991, and Germany did too, but it was to become effective on 15 January 1992, with the rest of the EC member states.

The international recognition of the Republic of Croatia came from Estonia on 31 December 1991, from the Holy See on 13 January 1992, from San Marino on 14 January 1992, and after the EC, from  Argentina on 16 January 1992 , from Turkey on 6 February 1992, from the Russian Federation on 17 February, from 15 March 1992, from Japan on 17 March 1992, from the United States on 7 April, from China on 27 April, from India on 11 May, from Indonesia on 16 May 1992. The recognitions were concluded with the admission to the United Nations on 22 May 1992.

The course of events culminating on 15 January 1992 was preceded by a long diplomatic struggle fought in international forums, concurrently with the defensive war waged throughout its territory.

Differing interpretations

The European and world politicians interpreted the evolution of events in the area of ex Yugoslavia differently and dissonantly and advocated different strategies of response.

After the Serbian side in October 1991 rejected the plan for the crisis resolution envisaging the reconstitution  of Yugoslavia into a federation of independent and sovereign states, developed by mediators headed by the UK Foreign Minister Lord Carringtona, the Arbitration Committee established by the Council of Ministers of the European Community in the Hague in September 1991 issued a positive opinion on the right of Croatia to independence.

The Badinter Arbitration Commission Committee (also referred to as the Badinter Commission) during December 1991 and January 1992 furnished expert opinions at the request of Lord Carrington, the Chairman of the EC-sponsored Peace Conference on Yugoslavia  on the contentious legal issues that saw opposed interpretations by the sides in conflict in Yugoslavia.

Based on the Commission’s opinion, the member states of the European Community decided to recognise the Republic of Croatia as an independent and sovreign state, on the condition of signing of a agreement on ceasefire.

Celebrating the historic victory in the main square of Zagreb President Tuđman stated: We survived in the past, won in present and the future belongs to us“.

Although there were still many battles to be won to the final victory and restored territory, peaceful reintegration of the Danubian Basin , let alone the accession to NATO and the EU, they and the natural right to its self-determination and future, they basically followed the victory of 15 January 1992.