Today, the 15th of January, is a special date on the Croatian calendar, a day known as international recognition day. On the 15th of January 1992 the countries of then then EC jointly recognised Croatia as an independent state, as well as Germany and the Vatican. It is widely believed that the first ever nation to recognise Croatia as an independent country was Iceland. After the 15th of January 1992 more and more countries recognised Croatia.
On the 25th of June 1991 Croatia announced independence from Yugoslavia. And the first sovereign country to recognise Croatia was Iceland on the 19th of December 1991, almost a month before the larger European countries also agreed. Two days before the European giants recognised Croatia’s independence the Vatican did so. The Vatican was quickly followed by San Marino.
But the 15th of January will forever be seen as the day of international recognition when Croatia was recognised by the United Kingdom, Denmark, Malta, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg and Greece. The next day Argentina, Australia, the Czech Republic, Chile, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Slovakia, Sweden and Uruguay followed suit.
Russia recognised Croatia as an independent country on the 17th of February 1992, and the USA were one of the last countries finally deciding on the 7th of April. Egypt was the first African country to recognise Croatia on the 16th of April.
On the 22nd of May 1992 Croatia became a full member of the United Nations and on the 1st of July 2013 the 28th member of the European Union. However important these two dates are, and indeed they are, the 15th of January is seen as the date the world recognised Croatia as a free and independent state. A day that the heavyweights of Europe stood behind Croatia on its long path to become an integrated part of Europe and a sovereign country.