Photo exhibition of Sinjska Alka in the European Parliament


Honourable ladies and gentlemen, Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Dubravka Šuica, guests from the Alka Knights’ Society; Vice-President of the Governing Board Mr. Dinko Bošnjak, Duke Mr. Mario Šušnjara, members of the Governing Board, Alkars Troop Commander with Alkars And Chieftain with Alkar squires. 

Members of the European Parliament, dear participants and dear guests, 

I am glad that I am able to welcome you here in the European Parliament at the opening of the photo exhibition relating to Sinjska Alka, a piece of Croatian tradition, but also global heritage, dating back to 1715. The value of Alka, as has already been said, was recognised by UNESCO in 2010, when it was inscribed on the UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Thank Alka Knights’ Society for maleserving this tradition of Croatian people through generation.

I am particularly glad that we are doing this here in the European institutions in Brussels at the end of this ninth term of the Parliament, on the eve of the European elections. This is not without symbolism and sends a strong message.

European integration has been a project of unparalleled success, bringing peace and prosperity to the European nations for more than 70 years. It has especially been important for smaller countries like Croatia, creating a framework where they could thrive and develop without fear of large powers destroying their hard-earned independence and sovereignty. The crucial precondition for such a success has been the achieved balance between working together and resolving problems that Member States cannot resolve by themselves, in line with the principle of subsidiarity, and the protection of national interests and specificities, the diversity which makes Europe what it is today. This balance between the specific and common, national and European, is the token for the successful future of the European project.

We speak often about the European way of life. This concept, for me, means that our society is firmly rooted in the Christian heritage lasting for more than 2000 years. Even though it has become popular to downplay, or even openly discard this legacy, it is my firm belief that such ideas are extremely dangerous and have to be strongly tackled in the public sphere. Europe would not have been what it is today without the Christian morality, social teaching and individuality. A tree cannot survive without its roots, and we have to fight strongly to pass this over to future generations.

Alka knights’ tournament epitomises all the values that I have just described. It represents the battle where people of Sinj, surrounded and outnumbered, defeated a foreign aggressive power originating in Asia, and protected Christianity and our national identity in the southern part of Croatia from disappearance. The importance of this victory was such that the Ottoman empire never again seriously attempted to occupy Croatian Adriatic coast. As centuries went by, Alka became the focal point of identity of Sinj and Cetinska krajina as a whole.

By marking the 309th anniversary of this historic event, Sinjska Alka embodies what Croatia and Croats stand for: patriotism, courage, honesty and faith in God. This exhibition is a small attempt to present this to the wider European public.

At the end, I would like to thank you again all for coming and see you in the 309th Sinjska Alka.