New York, September 2006. In a ceremony attended by high dignitaries, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) presented Mr. Stjepan Mesic, President of Croatia, with the Raoul Wallenberg Award 2006 for his concern for the fate of Raoul Wallenberg and other saviors of the Holocaust. The event was held at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations during President Mesic’s visit to New York to attend the General Assembly.
The Croatian president has shown a sincere dedication to promoting the ideals of the IRWF and to helping solve the mystery of Wallenberg’s fate. Mesic wrote a letter to President Vladimir Putin explaining his decision to become an Honorary Member of the IRWF. In his letter he also writes, in reference to the Wallenberg’s foundation campaign to uncover Wallenberg’s fate and bring him home to Stockholm, ”I am convinced… that you will do everything in you power to meet the request of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.”
In the 1970s, Mesic was indicted for ”acts of enemy propaganda” for advocating economic, political, and cultural equality within Yugoslavia and spent one year at the Stara Gradiska prison. He was elected President in 2000 and re-elected in 2005. The President is active in foreign policy and is working for Croatia to become a member of the European Union and NATO.
Ambassador Mirjana Mladineo, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the UN, opened the ceremony welcoming the guests. Ms. Abigail Tenembaum, Vice President of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation introduced the Award, highlighting President Mesic’s merits and principles, as well as the role of more that 100 Croatians who saved people during the Holocaust. She also read a few quotes from the dozens of letters of endorsement congratulating President Mesic that arrived to the Foundation.
Mr. Baruch Tenembaum, Founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, and Mr. Saul Kagan, co- founder of Claims Conference, presented the Raoul Wallenberg Award Medal to President Mesic. In his speech, the President reassured his commitment to the Wallenberg cause and praised the Wallenberg Award as the most significant laureate received during his career.
Dr. Ivo Sanader, Prime Minister of Croatia; Mrs. Kolinda Gabar-Kitarovic, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Bozo Biskupic, Minister of Culture; Ambassador Anders Lidén, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN; Ambassador Gábor Bródi, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Hungary to the UN, were among the distinguished guests. Jewish and Christian religious leaders were present, underlying the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation’s commitment in following Wallenberg’s legacy of interreligious dialogue and understanding.
The Raoul Wallenberg Award has been established to recognize those who demonstrate rectitude in their conduct and for their outstanding performance in their respective occupations, as well as their firm and continuous support of NGOs. Dr. Natalio Wengrower, vice-president of the IRWF adds, ”The IRWF decided to create this award to encourage all people of good will who have demonstrated through their work an unwavering commitment to upholding the humanitarian values which Raoul Wallenberg stands for.” The Raoul Wallenberg Award was presented to Ambassadors, Authors and intellectuals from Spain, France, Israel, Argentina and Sweden. This is the first time the award is presented to a head of state.