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Zagreb, Croatia — Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the President Pro Tempore of the United States, traveled to Croatia this week for his last official overseas visit as a US Senator. The Senator’s visit coincides with three milestones: the centennial of Armistice Day, the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Accords, and the 70th anniversary of the birth of Krešimir Cosic.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic invited Senator Hatch to Croatia to receive the “Order of Prince Branimir” ribbon for his “for his contributions to the independence of the Republic of Croatia and relations between the Croatian and American people,” one of the highest honors the nation of Croatia can bestow. (See tweet from President @KolindaGK and US Embassy in Zagreb). 

Via YouTube

When the Berlin Wall fell, post-Cold War US foreign policy was first tested and formulated in South Eastern Europe. Senator Hatch is the only remaining US Senator who played a decisive role in the signing of the Dayton Accords—the political resolution signed in November 1995 that paved the way for a strong and secure Croatia.

Senator Hatch at the Berlin Wall during a tour of Eastern Europe on April 9, 1990.

The Senator’s involvement with Croatia over the years: 

  • S. Res. 246, which he introduced with Senators Dole and Lieberman in January 1992. The resolution called on the United States to recognize Croatia’s independence.
  • S. 21, The Bosnia and Herzegovina Self-Defense Act of 1995 which was introduced in January 1995 and which called for an end to the arms embargo against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Senate passed this legislation in August 1995. Afterwards, President Clinton initiated the “Lift and Strike” policy, and the Dayton Accords were signed several months later.
  • In 1996, Senator Hatch visited Croatia, along with Senators Reid and Daschle, on a nine-day congressional delegation visit to survey the implementation of the Dayton Accords.

Senator Hatch also held productive meetings with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, and Speaker of the Parliament Gordan Jandrokovic, where they discussed ways of strengthening the US-Croatia bilateral relationship and advancing common political, military, commercial, and cultural priorities.

Krešimir Cosic Fireside

The Senator gave a tribute in honor of Krešimir Cosic at an event hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In attendance were Church leaders, Croatian athletes, and Krešimir Cosic’s family. In his tribute, the Senator reminisced about his relationship with ?osi?and about his work on behalf of Croatia and its neighbors in the 1990s. The event was held as part of a speaker series to commemorate what would have been Cosic's 70th birthday.

The Senator gave a tribute in honor of Krešimir Cosic as a part of a speaker series to commemorate what would have been Cosic's 70th birthday.

Via YouTube 

About Krešimir Cosic

Krešimir Cosic was among Europe’s most famous basketball players and was one of Brigham Young University’s most celebrated athletes. Born in Zadar, he was recruited to play basketball for BYU, where he became a key fixture of the university’s basketball program, earning All-American honors in 1972 and 1973. While a student at BYU, Cosic was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Professor Hugh Nibley and, upon his return to Croatia, paved the way for the Church’s establishment there, even translating the Book of Mormon into Croatian. 

Cosic later became Croatia’s Deputy Ambassador to the United States, in which capacity he worked side by side with Senator Hatch. The two shared a close friendship that began when Cosic played basketball at BYU. Cosic passed away in May 1995 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, just months before the signing of the Dayton Accords, which brought lasting peace to his country. 

Senator Hatch shown with his dear friend Krešimir Cosic, former Brigham Young University basketball star and coach of the Yugoslav national basketball team in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.