The “Government of Democratic Unity” leads Croatia to International Recognition

On this day in 1991, all parliamentary parties came together to ratify the agreement that established “Government of Democratic Unity” in the Republic of Croatia. This was one of the primary events that preceded international recognition of Croatia’s independence.

As the aggression against Croatia began and there was little international support for its desire for independence, it became clear to Croatian President Dr. Franjo Tuđman that all political forces should join in defense of the country. What resulted was a restructured, completely different government as Josip Manolić was replaced as Prime Minister by Franjo Gregurić who explained the immediate tasks of his government in an interview:

The first task was to organize an effective defense of the Republic of Croatia in the war imposed upon us and establish law and order; the second was to protect the entire population, regardless of nationality, in endangered areas; to provide supplies and conditions towards finding a democratic solution to the problem of coexistence between Croats and Serbs in Croatia and to create a climate that would facilitate a better standard of living and economic growth in Croatia. I think the final point was to hasten the process of disassociation with Yugoslavia.

Franjo Gregurić

After an agreement was struck between all seven parliamentary parties, the new prime minister-designate announced the creation of an unusual government comprised of various party and non-party ministers on August 3, 1991 in the Croatian Parliament. That is why the government became known as  Croatia’s “Government of Democratic Unity”. It had three vice-presidents who were Milan Ramljak (non-partisan), Zdravko Tomac (Social Democratic Party-SDP) and Mato Granić (Croatian Democrtic Union-HDZ).

That government consisted of fifty-one percent of members from HDZ while the rest were from other parties and independents – making it the first coalition government,

Franjo Gregurić, TV series “The War before the War

During the thirteen months of the coalition government’s existence, Croatia defended itself on the battlefield and was politically active on the world stage. Most European countries recognized Croatia’s independence in January of 1992 and four months later it was admitted to the United Nations. In addition, a war economy was largely avoided and a market economy was introduced. Despite sometimes impossible conditions, sufficient food and other necessities were provided for citizens and the army and domestic production of arms and military equipment had begun. The Croatian customs service was established, a national monetary system introduced and the Croatian army and police were strengthened.

Although the Government of National Unity often changed its composition due to political disputes, this did not diminish its importance. When Franjo Tuđman was elected President of Croatia for the second time on 12 August 1992, Franjo Gregurić was relieved of his duties as Prime Minister and Hrvoje Šarinić appointed in his place.

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