Croatia’s Independence Day (Dan Neovisnosti)
Independence Day is a holiday in the Republic of Croatia marked on June 25 (see footnote). This holiday celebrates the unanimous decision of the Croatian parliament to end the connection to Yugoslavia.
On October 8, 1991, the Croatian Parliament unanimously adopted the Decision on the Termination of State Legislators of the Republic of Croatia with other republics and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia provinces.
The Parliament established that the Republic of Croatia no longer considers Yugoslavia legitimate or as a legal body and therefore does not recognize any legal act of anyone acting on behalf of the former Federation.
The difference between Independence and Statehood Day in Croatia
Independence Day in Croatia is a turning point in Croatian history and represents the final decision of the Croatian parliament to break any connection with Yugoslavia. The actual date Croatia chose to declare its independence from Yugoslavia was June 25, 1991.
After declaring independence, more work was necessary to move towards complete independence. Complete independence happened officially on October 8, 1991 – Croatian Independence Day (Dan neovisnosti).
Ten years passed before Independence Day became a holiday by the government, and it took one more year before it was made a public national holiday. Independence Day was implemented in 2001 by the Ivica Račan government, so the first holiday was celebrated in 2002.
History of Dan Neovisnosti
The Brioni Declaration was signed in 1991 between the representatives of Croatia, Slovenia, and the Social Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The declaration was presented by the European Community to create a peaceful solution in response to the break up of Yugoslavia.
Three months later on October 7, 1991, the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) bombed the historic center of Zagreb, the state parliament building, and Banski Dvori. At the time, those locations served as headquarters for President Franjo Tuđman and state officials.
Due to the air strikes on Zagreb, a meeting of all three parliamentary councils was held on October 8, 1991 in a secret location. Croatia’s first Speaker of the Parliament, Zarko Domljan, said that Croatia had waited too long after its separation from Yugoslavia and that its freedom was necessary for survival.
The declaration confirming that the break up of Yugoslavia stated:
“The Republic of Croatia, on October 8, 1991, terminates state-law relations on the basis of which it formed the SFRY along with the other republics and provinces thus far.”
The Croatian Parliament also emphasized the following:
“The Republic of Croatia does not recognize any legal act of anybody acting on behalf of the former Federation – SFRY.”
Independence Day in Croatia is a memorial holiday and not a public holiday. City leaders mark the memory of this day by placing candles and flowers on city memorials and memorable statues of people who defended Croatia in the Croatian War of Independence.
Interested in other Croatian holidays?
Learn about the other holidays here.
UPDATE 01/10/2020: From 2020, Independence Day will be marked on June 25, instead of October 8. The Sabor also decided that Independence Day will no longer be marked as a national holiday – now, it is a memorial day.