Rivlin and Croatian president
Rivlin and Croatian presidentHaim Zach, GPO

President Reuven Rivlin last night hosted a state dinner in honor of President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is visiting Israel.

Earlier in the day, the President of Croatia laid a wreath on the grave of Rivlin's late wife Nechama, in a tribute to her memory. Rivlin thanked the Croatian president for this honor.

"We are marking 30 years of relations between Israel and Croatia, and I can say that our countries and our economies are getting closer and closer to so many areas - innovation, tourism, security and disaster management," the president said, adding that Croatia has become a major tourist destination for Israelis.

The president continued, "I strongly believe that there is a bright future for the partnership between us. But a bright future must be based on a clear understanding of the past. We share a past that contains points of light and points of darkness. We must never seek to minimize or distort the crimes of the Ustasha regime. And we must share the legacy of 118 Croatian Righteous Among the Nations, who are shining examples for all humanity. We must swiftly counter any expressions of anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial. And we must educate the next generation, especially through the personal stories of Holocaust survivors," said the president, noting the presence of Miriam Steiner Aviezer.

Miriam, a Holocaust survivor, was born in Croatia in 1935 and spent the war in the Jasenovac camp. The president turned to her and said, "my dear Miriam, you are a symbol – a symbol of the special relationship between our countries, a symbol of the past, a symbol of the present and a symbol of the future."

President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović: "Croatia stands alongside the State of Israel and will continue to do so. That is what I said in the past, and that is what I will continue to say," she said. "This is how we will continue in our work in the European Union and at the United Nations," she stressed.

"Our partnership with the State of Israel is more important to us than any deal," the president said of the cancelled deal to buy training jets, adding, "So I will continue and advance our strategic relationship. Our excellent relationship has continued to grow and grow, and so will it in the future. "