PM Sanader had met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the day before, and had a meeting with President George Bush and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, that afternoon. He was also scheduled to meet with Vice-President Cheney on Wednesday
On Tuesday evening, October 17, 2006, there was a reception at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, DC, for Croatia Prime Minister Ivo Sanader sponsored by the Embassy of Croatia. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Croatian Foreign Minister, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic', and Croatian Ambassador to the United States, Neven Jurica. The United States was represented by Under-Secretary of State, Nicholas Burns (in the absence of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who was on her way to the Far East to address North Korea issues), and United States Ambassador to Croatia, Robert A. Bradtke. A few members from the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) executive committee were in attendance and had opportunities to discuss our organization's activities and goals with dignitaries from both countries.
PM Sanader had met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the day before, and had a meeting with President George Bush and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, that afternoon. He was also scheduled to meet with Vice-President Cheney on Wednesday.
At the evening reception, PM Sanader described his meeting with President Bush as nothing less than "historic". The two leaders apparently engaged very well on a personal level and discussed a range of bilateral concerns. President Bush was very complimentary of Croatia in his remarks and said he'd love to visit the country that's been described as one of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth. President Bush exceeded everyone's expectation when he went on to say, "I also believe it's in the world's interest that Croatia join NATO, as well as the European Union. To that end, when I go to Riga (2006 NATO Alliance Conference in Lativa in November), I will make the case that Croatia should be admitted. It seems like a reasonable date would be 2008." President Bush not only made that declaration at the meeting in the Oval Office, but he later repeated it on camera in a public statement.
The NFCA in support of The Republic of Croatia has had as its main goal the admission of Croatia as a full member of the NATO Alliance. NATO will ensure peace and Croatia can then focus her resources and energies on building prosperiety for her people. Toward that goal, the NFCA has diligently worked in parallel with the Congressional Croatian Caucus(CCC) and the Embassy of Croatia, and directly with U. S. Congressional Members, the State Department, and the National Security Council. The NFCA believes that the creation of the CCC and the passage of H. Res. 529 and S. Res. 342 recommending Croatia be admitted into NATO provided the groundwork for this latest development. The NFCA's recent efforts have been directed at U. S. Secretaries Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld to enlist their show of support for Croatia at the upcoming Riga Conference. President Bush's declaration was both stunning and gratifying to the NFCA in that he personally offered to carry the banner for Croatia in Riga.
Much credit for this development belongs to the U. S. Ambassador to Croatia, Robert A. Bradtke. Mr. Bradtke had previously been with the State Department and was responsible for qualifying entrants into NATO during the last Enlargement in 2004. The Ambassador speaks the Croatian language and has made a point of reaching out to the Croatian people. He belives strongly that Croatia should be a full member of the NATO Alliance and is committed to raising the level of support for this among the Croatian people. In his first 100 days there, Ambassador Bradtke has traveled extensively throughout the country to meet with the people and to understand current conditions. The NFCA is delighted with the appointment of this extremely qualified professional diplomat.
On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Ivo Sanader delivered a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. His speech entitled "Croatia: An Engine for Change" was centered around Croatia's place in the world. He reflected on the great progress of Croatia in the last 15 years, from the need for security during the shelling of Dubrovnik and destruction of Vukovar to providing security today with NATO in Afghanistan and in 11 of 18 projects of the United Nations. He said, "we do not have the right to forget the past", but we must look forward to the future including an emphasis on mandatory education of young people. He said that Croatia's approach with the international community will be through cooperation, not confrontation, and noted that the country's international economic rating is moving up at a good pace. The Prime Minister referred to Croatia as "a great success story" and good example for other countries in Southeast Europe and elsewhere. He said that Croatia will show international leadership in working with her neighbors for the region's success. He cautioned that Croatia still has lots of unfinished business including membership in NATO and the European Union(EU), the war on terror, and resolution of the issues among the three constituents in Bosnia Herzegovina. Prime Minister Sanader pointed out that Croatia has the same values as the EU, NATO, and other Trans-Atlantic organizations.
All NFCA members and friends who have supported our efforts to build a strong relationship between the United States and The Republic of Croatia should feel pleased with the great progress that has been made with your contributions. Croatia
is close to achieving membership in NATO and need your continued support, both moral and financial, to accomplishment this goal. NATO will provide a defense for Croatia never seen in her history. A few decades of this coveted protection is required for the country to catch up with the prosperity of the West and to produce a new generation of freedom-minded leaders who will take her to new heights.
Please send needed contributions to the National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA), Suite 115, 2401 Research Blvd., Rockville, Maryland, 20850.
Edward A. Andrus, President/NFCA
Formated for CROWN by Nenad Bach
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