Bush visits Croatia amid protests
www.chinaview.cn 2008-04-05 10:26:57   Print

U.S. President George W. Bush walks past the honour guard with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic during their meeting in Zagreb April 4, 2008.

U.S. President George W. Bush walks past the honour guard with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic during their meeting in Zagreb April 4, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Photo Gallery>>>

    BELGRADE, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Visiting U.S. President George W. Bush and his Croatian counterpart, Stjepan Mesic, discussed relations between the two countries Friday as Croatian demonstrators rallied in downtown Zagreb to protest U.S. foreign policy.

    After the talks with Bush in the presidential place, Mesic said at a dinner that relations between Croatia and the United States "are on the upswing," the Croatian official news agency HINA reported.

    "We need and seek allies and friends throughout the world -- allies and friends who will wish to cooperate with us while respecting our identity and our special qualities, taking due account of their and our national interests," he said.

    "I believe that Croatia can have precisely such an ally and friend in the United States," Mesic said.

    Bush arrived in Zagreb on Friday afternoon for a two-day visit from Bucharest, where Croatia received an invitation to join NATO a day earlier.

    Mesic thanked the United States for its support for Croatia "in the achievement of the two priority goals of Croatia's foreign policy: accession to the European Union and to NATO."

    "In receiving the invitation for NATO at the recent Bucharest summit we have accomplished a decisive step towards NATO membership. I am also convinced that our negotiations on accession to the European Union will continue successfully after a brief standstill," Mesic said.

    Bush said he was celebrating the fact that Croatia was invited to join NATO and was "so proud" of the U.S.-Croatian relationship, describing Croatia's NATO invitation as an invitation to Croatia to become "one of America's closest allies."

    Bush also praised Croatians for the bravery and willingness to help the fledgling democracy in Afghanistan.

    Bush is the first U.S. president to make an official visit to Croatia since its independence in 1992. President Richard Nixon visited Croatia in 1970 when it was still a part of Yugoslavia. President Bill Clinton visited Croatia in 1996, but he only stopped at Zagreb airport for a few hours.

    In downtown Zagreb, peaceful rallies were held to protest U.S. foreign policy. About 250 activists of the Anti-Imperialist Actiongroup gathered in Francuske Republike square, holding up banners and flags protesting against NATO and U.S. policy.

    "We are here to show that Croatia is not with Bush and the aggressive U.S. policy," activist Mario Simunkovic said, adding that the protest was not against the United States and its people, but against its foreign policy.

    Late Friday, the activists joined a rally in Cvjetni Trg square, organized by several non-governmental organizations. The activistslit candles to represent all the victims of Bush's policy, killed in the World Trade Center in New York and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Bush is expected to meet Prime Minister Ivo Sanader Saturday and address the public in St. Mark's Square in central Zagreb.

Editor: An Lu
Related Stories
Home World
  Back to Top