The European Union was founded with one crucial task, to keep the peace between European countries. More than fifty years later former enemies like Germany and France are united in peace as friends and partners. That is a clear demonstration of the transformative power of the EU, the power to erase borders, tear down walls and prevent conflicts.

The fact that peace has not been a number one topic in the EU for quite some time is a historical success, but today's Union is faced with a different set of challenges. The long lasting economic and financial crisis has put the EU's leaders, institutions and nations to the test. Hand in hand with deficit, unemployment and austerity we are witnessing a resurgence of phenomena we considered buried in historical archives like xenophobia, racism and neo-fascism. More then ever, today's Europe needs solidarity, understanding and tolerance, the key values social democracy stands for.

Croatia also has a role to play, we are acutely aware how thin the line between peace and war, civilisation and savagery is. The events of our not so distant past should serve a stark reminder on what happens when discussion and cooperation fail.

As the EU's 28th Member State we have a unique opportunity the create a better Croatia for the next generation. I will paraphrase the late Prime Minister Ivica Račan who, when presenting his vision of Croatia, said the following: „ My whish is that our children grow up to citizens who can travel anywhere in the world and proudly say „hey, I'm from Croatia!“.

That is my vision too.