On the occasion of Statehood Day, which is observed on June 25, 379 students graduated at the Petar Zrinski military academy in Zagreb on Friday, of whom 230 are officers and 149 non-commissioned officers, and they were congratulated by President and Armed Forces Commander-In-Chief Ivo Josipovic.
In his address, he remembered those who gave their lives in the defence of Croatia's sovereignty and said that this year Croatia was marking 20 years of its Armed Forces and 20 years of independence.
Josipovic said Croatia would join the European Union very soon and be one of the EU armies soon, which would elevate its cooperation with the friendly countries in the EU to a higher and more responsible level.
"The sacrifice of those who gave their lives and the expectations of generations oblige us to be at a level of responsibility that enables the prosperity and development of society and state," he said, telling the graduates that citizens, allies and partner states in which they would be engaged in international and humanitarian missions would recognise sovereign Croatia in them.
"Make our citizens, state and society, your families and friends proud," said Josipovic.
Defence Minister Davor Bozinovic recalled that since 1991, 28,000 students attended the Petar Zrinski school, including more than 140 from abroad.
He said innovation and flexibility were crucial for the openness of the military.
The minister said Croatia's NATO membership and engagement in the EU's common security and defence policy had launched a re-examination of the defence system, which would result in a better strategic defence review with development guidelines for the period until 2020.
Bozinovic also highlighted the engagement of Croatian troops in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
Major General Mirko Sundov said the 379 graduates included 42 women and 15 students from Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia.