To mark the occasion, Croatian Ambassador to Hungary Mladen Andrlic, Hungarian Minister of Justice Judit Varga and a group of guests, officials and media gathered at the corner of Zrínyi and Október 6 utcas to present the potbellied policeman with the symbolically red covering, red being the dominant colour in the Croatian checkerboard, or chequy, the national symbol of the country and which decorates the main shield of the national coat of arms.

Croatia takes over the rotating six-month presidency from Finland. It is Croatia’s first time in the chair, the country having become the European Union's 28th and newest member state on July 1, 2013. The slogan for the presidency is “A strong Europe in a world of challenges” and the program is based on four pillars: a Europe that develops, a Europe that connects, a Europe that protects and a Europe that is influential.

The ceremony in Budapest at noon was followed by an evening reception at the Croatian Embassy and Residence in Munkácsy Mihály utca, District VI. Speeches touched on friendship with all nations and the challenges ahead.

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For Croatians, January 15 is marked as the day the country won international recognition, being officially recognised by the European Community on this date in 1992. And it was on January 15, 1997 that reintegration of lost Croatian territories was achieved peacefully.

Topping off the EU presidency, Rijeka, a Croatian coastal town by the Adriatic Sea, is one of the two European Capitals of Culture for 2020, the other being Galway in Ireland.


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