Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić attended 9 November 2017 in Zagreb a round table discussion on "Croatia - 20 Years Before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR)".
Addressing the event, Pejcinović Burić recalled that Croatia recognised the ECHR's jurisdiction on November 5, 1997, noting that the Court's rulings and decisions were a significant contribution to the protection of human rights in Croatia.
"Croatia's support to the Court's work is beyond question... regardless of their content, the Court's decisions encourage positive changes in the way domestic law and court and administrative practice are interpreted," she said.
She said that the experience of the past 20 years showed that an awareness had developed in Croatia that all who apply Croatian regulations interpret those regulations in line with the legal positions expressed in the ECHR's rulings.
"There is, however, still room for a far better implementation of the Convention in Croatia, which is the responsibility of us all," she said.
She said that for several years Croatia had been allocating extra money from the Council of Europe's regular budget for the ECHR's work as a voluntary contribution to reducing the large case backlog.
She recalled that as of this year Croatia was for the first time a member of the UN Human Rights Council, adding that "our entire international activity is directed at further developing and protecting human rights, in line with defined foreign policy goals."
Commenting on the number of cases from Croatia before the ECHR, ECHR judge Ksenija Turković confirmed that considering its size, Croatia had relatively many cases before the ECHR.
By 31 December 2016, 14,075 cases were filed and 13,115 were dismissed. "That is a great deal of dismissed cases, 93%, but Croatia is not much different than other countries in that regard. The number of dismissed cases goes as high as 98% in the case of some countries," she said, adding that this was proof that those cases had not been prepared well and that all national legal means must be exhausted before going to the ECHR.
In Croatia's case, 375 rulings have been made to date, and 364 breaches of the Convention have been found.
Turković said that Croatia's legal system had made progress and that it was increasingly aware of what to do with the Convention, praising the Constitutional Court for making "significant progress" in that regard.
Subsidiarity brings major changes and priority will increasingly be given to domestic courts, but that is possible only if they function well, she said.
ECHR President Guido Raimondi, who is visiting Croatia on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Croatia's becoming a member of the Strasbourg-based court, thanked Croatia for its consistent support to the ECHR.