About the Croatian Paneuropean Union
The Croatian Pan-European Union is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1991. It is a member of the oldest movement for the unification of Europe, the Pan-European Union, which has been active since 1922.
On the predecessors
The prehistory of the Pan-European organisation in Croatia goes back to the very beginnings of the Pan-European Union in the twenties and thirties of the 20th century. In the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, there was a Pan-European Union that had three committees: in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana. Each committee had its own president and secretary. The Zagreb Pan-European organisation was led by university professor and former minister of agriculture Dr Otto Frangeš (1870-1945). He worked closely with the founder Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. He participated in Vienna at the 4th Pan-European Congress in 1935 and at the Pan-European Danube Conference in 1936. He was also elected a member of the Pan-European Economic Centre in Vienna.
During socialist Yugoslavia, representatives of the Croatian emigration were represented within the framework of the International Pan-European Union. Ivona Dončević (née Maixner) (1917-2014) played a significant role in Germany. As a member of the Croatian National Assembly since 1988, an association for promoting the truth about Croatia before the creation of an independent state, she was a permanent delegate to the International Pan-European Union and the Pan-European Alpe-Adriatic Group. She is credited with the first reception of the delegation of the newly created Republic of Croatia to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. She helped in the creation of the Croatian Pan-European Union and participated in the work of the founding assembly.
On the founding
The founding assembly of the Croatian Pan-European Union was held in the European House in Zagreb on 27 May 1991. Bernd Posselt, then a member of the Presidency of the International Pan-European Union, was present at the session. As an emissary of President Otto von Habsburg, he supervised and coordinated the founding acts. Numerous public officials and prominent politicians participated in the organisational preparations and negotiations for the establishment of a new Pan-European organisation. Among others, the first President of the Croatian Parliament Žarko Domljan became a member of the Presidency and remained an active member of the Croatian Pan-European Union until his death in 2020.
One of the founders, Prof Mislav Ježić, was elected as the first president of the Croatian Pan-European Union. The following members were elected to the Presidency: Žarko Domljan, Goran Blažeković, Nikola Bićanić, Ivan Cesar, Antun Abramović, Šime Đodan, Radovan Grgec, Stjepan Herceg, Hrvoje Kraljević, Ivo Kujundžić, Mato Marčinko, Joja Ricov, Lavoslav Torti, Marko Veselica and Lav Znidarčić. The following vice-presidents were appointed at the founding assembly: Nevenka Nekić, Neven Jurica, Zvonko Lerotić, Đuro Njavro and Božidar Petrač. Borna Bebek was appointed as the secretary general. Vice-president Nevenka Nekić excelled since the foundation of the association in organising and leading forums, conferences, promotions and round tables. Her contribution is significant, especially in organising art exhibitions, book presentations and musical performances.
Headquarters and premises
In 1992, the City of Zagreb ceded the use of the premises at Jurišićeva 1A, on the first floor, to the Croatian Pan-European Union. The space is located in the centre of Zagreb, in a building in front of which is a monument to Stjepan Radić and where his printing house used to be. In the first years, the activities of the Croatian Pan-European Union were focused on humanitarian activities and informing the international Pan-European public, European politicians, foreign ministers, presidents of other countries and journalists about the war against Croatia and the truth about the new independent, democratic and pro-European state, as well as work on international recognition of the Republic of Croatia.
The Pan-European headquarters in Croatia has become a destination to which many supporters and advocates of European peace and unification, from civil society and the media as well as from politics, have made a pilgrimage. In such circumstances, good cooperation developed with the organisations of the Pan-European Union in Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Estonia, Spain, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to its regular activities, the Croatian Pan-European Union was also becoming a centre for coordinating information to donors about the needs of healthcare and centres for exiles and refugees in seeking, delivering or directing humanitarian aid from abroad.
International President Otto von Habsburg took the lead in cooperation and support actions. He came to Zagreb in the midst of the airstrikes and was the main speaker at the conference of the Croatian Pan-European Union "Croatia and the New European Community". The meeting was held on 17 October 1991 in the Croatian National Theatre. In the following year, 1992, he visited Croatia twice, in January Zagreb and Karlovac, and in October he spoke at the Croatian World Assembly in Zagreb. From then until 2009, he regularly came to meetings in Croatia every year, sometimes several times a year. He travelled all over the country, and on 29 March 1996, President Franjo Tuđman honoured him with the Order of King Zvonimir with a ribbon and Danica. He was awarded honorary citizenship of several cities - Karlovac, Osijek, Zadar, Požega, and Opatija.
Pan-European branches and Youth
Since 1992, the establishment of Pan-European branches throughout the country began. First, the Istrian branch was founded in Pazin in April 1992. Then the Karlovac branch was founded on 12 June 1992. The Zadar branch followed in 1993. In 1994, two branches were founded again, in Dubrovnik and Osijek. From 1998 to 2001, new Pan-European branches were established every year: in Požega in 1998, in Split in 1999, in Varaždin in 2000, and finally in Čakovec in 2001.
The Croatian Pan-European Youth was founded on 15 June 1992 in the European House in Zagreb. Joško Pavan was elected as the first president. The youth initiated a series of notable manifestations: "Summer Universities" in Murter, Knin and Dubrovnik, the international conference "Croatian Path to Europe – How to achieve the most" from September 23 to 25, 1994 in Karlovac.
Publishing and information
The Croatian Pan-European Union has developed extensive publishing and information activities. In 1994, the magazine "Paneuropa Croatica" was launched. Since 1996, the magazine has been published under the title "Voice of Pan-Europa", initially several times, and later once a year. Number 35 in the jubilee 25th anniversary was published in 2020. The book Mediterranean and Central European Cultural Landscapes of Croatia was printed in four languages: Croatian, French, German and English. A bilingual edition of The Dalai Lama in Croatia was published in English and Croatian. Two books by founder Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi were translated and printed: Pan-Europa and Total State – a Total Man. International President Otto von Habsburg's book Pan-European Idea: Vision Becomes Reality was published. His Biography by Eva Demmerla and Stephan Baier was printed and presented in his own presence in 2005. Stephan Baier's book What is Europe? Superstate or legal community.
Cultural and promotional activities
One of the most significant undertakings of the Croatian Pan-European Union was the installation of an exhibition on the cultural history of Croatia in the premises of the European Parliament in January 1996. What was unattainable for the then young country, the Pan-European association achieved with the help of Pan-European friends. The exhibition story about Croatia through text and pictures, translated into four languages, discreetly but impressively provided Europeans with information about the history and culture of Croatia as a Mediterranean and Central European country. The exhibition was then staged in the UNESCO Palace in Paris, Vienna, Cairo, Thessaloniki, Dubrovnik, Dresden, Berlin, Munich, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. On the same occasion, a book on the same topic was published in German, French, English and Croatian under the title Mediterranean and Central European Cultural Landscapes of Croatia. After a quarter of a century, the same art photography exhibition was staged in 2021 at the Faculty of Croatian Studies, and then in 2022 at the Rectorate of the University of Zagreb.
The Vukovar Chamber Music Festival can be cited as an example of efforts to develop and spread Croatian and European culture, especially where they have become the most threatened. This valuable musical manifestation, which is still held today in the premises of the City Museum in Vukovar, was launched on the 18th-20th June 1999 during the international conference of the Croatian Pan-European Union in Osijek and Vukovar. In the ruined building of the Eltz castle, with the presence of Otto von Habsburg and distinguished guests from various countries and European institutions, the director of the Festival, the distinguished concert pianist Vlasta Gyura, organised a musical event that continued to be traditionally held. Since 1999, the festival in Vukovar has attracted a large number of visitors and participants from Croatia and European countries. To the mentioned examples of special projects, it should be added that the Croatian Pan-European Union also constantly organised political, economic, cultural and scientific forums, as well as exhibitions and concerts.
From 2003 until the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union in 2013, most of the Pan-European activities were focused on the negotiation and accession process. Along with Prof Ježić, who was elected as honorary president, the newly elected president was Prof Pavo Barišić. Notable international conferences were organised both in Zagreb and in cities across Croatia from Dubrovnik to Pula, from Zadar and Opatija to Vukovar, Požega and Osijek.
Numerous supporters and sponsors are also credited for the successes and achievements of the Croatian Pan-European Union. By investing funds in programmes, they tried to raise the activity and visibility of the Croatian component of the Pan-European movement. Led by President Otto von Habsburg and his successor President Alain Terrenoire, the Pan-European Union implemented support and solidarity programmes for both the Croatian Pan-European Union and the Republic of Croatia, which has become a successful example of European integration. After ten years of membership in the European Union, the Republic of Croatia achieved the fundamental Pan-European goals of joining the Schengen area of Europe without borders in 2023 and introduced the common European currency – the Euro.
President Alain Terrenoire, at the head of the International Pan-European Union, initiated several meetings dedicated to the Republic of Croatia. In 2006, he organised a session of the Presidency of the International Pan-European Union in Paris, where the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, and later the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, was present and participated as a special guest. Of the cooperation with President Terrenoire, it is worth emphasising the preparation of the report for the Economic and Social Council on the Republic of Croatia and the countries of Southeastern Europe for the President and the Government of the Republic of France. In the key period of negotiations in 2006, that report was an additional positive incentive for stronger political support of the Republic of France for Croatia's efforts to join the European Union. In 2019, the president Terrenoire received the Order of Croatian Braid from the President of the Republic of Croatia for his services.
In the period from 2016 to 2022, Mislav Ježić assumed the position of President of the Croatian Pan-European Union.
On 10 November 2022 Pavo Barišić was re-elected to the position of head of the Croatian Pan-European Union.
Mislav Ježić has been the vice-president of the International Pan-European Union since 1994.
Pavo Barišić has been the Secretary-General of the International Pan-European Union since 2015.
Vanja Gavran was elected Secretary-General of the Croatian Pan-European Union in 2022, and since 2020 he has been acting as Deputy Secretary-General of the International Pan-European Union.
Presidency Council of the Croatian Pan-European Union
- Pavo Barišić
- Mislav Ježić
- Nevenka Nekić
- Davor Ivo Stier
- Damir Boras
- Ilija Bonić
- Karlo Ressler
- Vanja Gavran
- Andrej Plenković
- Hrvojka Mihanović Salopek
- Irena Dobrović
- Ivan Pavić
- Ivan Perković
- Ivica Martinović
- Jasmin Hutinović
- Jasna Pavelić-Jureško
- Jurica Cesar
- Laila Benko
- Loretana Farkaš
- Ljudevit Fran Ježić
- Marijan Kombol
- Mislav Barisic
- Mladen Andrlić
- Pavao Nujić
- Pavle Bucić
- Stanko Mališa
- Vesna Dušak
- Vesna Izaković
- Željko Obad