13 : 01 . I lived through the war. I was bombed. Many times. I remember being woken up by my parents in the middle of the night to find shelter and I remember the sound of the sirens*.
I remember the fear of being attacked, the anxiety, the tension. Many Croatians still remember this and should remember it when bringing to and contributing to the European Union. Because the fact that we have lived through this, may be the reason why we want to be in this family so strongly. When the war ended, out of all the patriotic songs that I remember – there was this one which chanted something like ‘Europe, Europe, please accept us !’ (He smiles) This is where I get my motivation from : from the fact that my country is now able to simply exist as a rightful and fully fledged member of the European Union, without having to justify itself. Finally ! One thing that I found particularly powerful – and beautiful – was that during the ceremony that celebrated Croatia’s accession, out of all the people that could have said the words that introduced my country to the EU, they chose a scientist and not a politician : Professor Ivan Đikić, famous for his work in cancer research. As a scientist myself, I found this meaningful because it showed the human aspect of being in this union. The professor gave the perspective of progress and progress is key to a prosperous humanity. I do not make a distinction between being a scientist and being political – especially that as of now, most of what I do is on the humanities’ side. I did study software engineering and now study innovation but before I also worked for the Croatian ministry of foreign affairs and my feel is that we can come together around science and technology as much as around humanities – science does not solve everything but it enables us to find solutions over the big things we need to deal with as a society. How I do it all? I simply find it gratifying to do what I do. Especially with everything I remember from our past, I am grateful for how things have turned out.
Matija is a European official working at DG GROW of the European Commission (concerned with the Single Market Strategy). He is from Croatia.
*He is referring to the war of independence in Croatia between 1991 and 1995, which occurred after Croatia split from the former Yugoslavia. Later on in 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union.