On Monday evening, September 4th, the Embassy of Croatia in Tel Aviv held a celebration marking 20 years of Croatian-Israeli diplomatic relations. The event was held at the Dan Hotel, along the shoreline in Tel Aviv.
Guests were greeted with a lovely reception table featuring handcrafts and maps and guidebooks for visiting Croatia. After the initial round of hors d'oeuvres, the evening formally opened with the national anthems of Croatia and Israel.
Chargée D'affaires Mrs. Tina Krce noted that the evening celebrated 25 years of international recognition for the Croatia, as well as 25 years of bilateral relations with Israel. Mrs. Krce noted the achievements of Croatia over the last quarter century in moving from a nascent democratic state to becoming an influential actor active in international affairs.
Discussing the Croatian-Israeli relationship, Mrs. Krce observed that the strength of the relationship could be discerned from the number of high-level diplomatic visits over the last few years, including two visits by Croatia’s president, one by its prime minister, as well as visits by the defense and foreign ministers. Mentioning the various areas in which the countries cooperate--economy, culture, national security, humanitarian aid, Mrs. Krce highlighted the most recent agreement, a memorandum of cooperation on military and defense affairs.
Another sign of the strength of the relationship was the swift assistance that Croatia provided when Israel faced devastating fires last summer. This too, led to greater cooperation in other areas. Mrs. Krce pointed out the important role that Croatian citizens living in Israel play in bringing the two countries together, and the shared values of building tolerant, successful and stable societies that both countries hold dear. In closing, she mentioned the efforts to recognize Croatian Righteous Among the Nations (those who saved Jews during the Holocaust), and the recent dedication of a monument in Zagreb to victims of the Holocaust.
Israeli Minister Ayoub Kara addressed the crowd on behalf of the Israeli government and people. Minister Kara congratulated Croatia. He touted the already strong bilateral relationship between the countries, and expressed confidence that this relationship would be strengthened in coming years. Minister Kara mentioned the various areas of cooperation between the nations, and especially focused on a joint interest in combatting extremism and promoting global peace and stability.
The Embassy then had a surprise for the audience--a special stamp created in honor of the occasion, featuring flowers from both countries, and involving the cooperation of both national postal services. A special run of the stamp had been created for both countries.
The CEOs of the Croatian and Israeli postal services were called up to the stage where they each gave brief remarks. Then the Honorary Consuls, along with the artist who designed the stamps, were all called on stage for the ceremonial unveiling.
When the ribbons were untied, the audience witnessed two framed poster-sized stamps featuring the Crown Anemone and the Croatian Iris. Additionally, all those on stage (Minister Kara, the Honorary Consuls, artist and heads of the postal services) received special framed collections.
Mrs. Krce thanked the Honorary Consuls of Croatia: Aaron Frenkel, Ran Fuchs, Yossi Landesman, and Samuel Schlesinger, for their support, the heads of the Croatian and Israeli postal services for preparing the stamps, Minister Kara and all of the distinguished guests for attending, and the Croatian Embassy staff for their work in orchestrating the event. She then invited the guests to partake of the catered dinner, and to sample some of the Croatian delicacies that the restaurant staff had prepared especially for the occasion.
There was still one more surprise for the guests. On the way out, each guest was offered their own set of the commemorative stamps, ensuring that they could pass on the beauty of the Croatian-Israeli friendship to more friends, whether in Israel, or in Croatia.
Steven Aiello is the founder of Debate for Peace
Photos by Silvia Golan