Wishing a warm welcome to Chicago alderman O'Connor, Rijeka mayor Vojko Obersnel pointed out that co-operation between Rijeka and Chicago had been initiated several years earlier, thus at the invitation of the Society “Croatian Woman” from Chicago, the young basketball team of the City of Rijeka had visited Chicago, which had served as a basis for establishing connections with other organisations in Chicago.
Presenting Rijeka as a multicultural and multiethnic city, characterised by a strong port activity and the ever-developing University, mayor Obersnel said he believes that on the basis of already established connections there are good grounds for establishing friendly relationships between the two cities. In addition to the mayor, the reception was also attended by the president of the Rijeka City Council Dorotea Pešić Bukovac and the vice mayor of the City of Rijeka Miroslav Matešić.
Chicago alderman Patrick J. O'Connor pointed out that the leaders of Chicago, which stretches along the shores of Lake Michigan, understand very well the importance of the port and transport in city development , and also that they consider that transport does not serve just for transporting goods, but also for connecting different cultures and ideas. He said multiethnicism is the richness of Chicago in which a significant Croatian community operates.
"I am confident that this meeting will also mark the beginning of co-operation between the two cities and that we’ll take advantage of both cities to the benefit of our citizens," said O'Connor.
He said that in the history of Chicago many people of Croatian origin had left deep mark, among others, one of Chicago mayors had been of Croatian origin. Also, Toni Kukoč had been for years a player of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. Thus, Alderman O'Connor gave a present to Rijeka mayor, a Chicago Bulls No 7 jersey – the number worn by Kukoč while playing for the Bulls.
This is the first time that Alderman O'Connor is on a visit to Croatia, country in which his wife has roots, and further to participation in the activities of the Brown Forum, he will take advantage of the visit to Croatia to see its beauties, including Dubrovnik, among other places. Alderman O'Connor was accompanied during the reception by the Cultural Affairs Officer at the Embassy of the United States in Zagreb, Sita Sonty and the coordinator of the American Corner at the University Library in Rijeka, Orietta Lubiana.
The Brown Forum is held in Opatija, on 2 and 3 April, it is attended by representatives of local government and businessmen from the U.S.A. and South-East Europe, including, among others, the representatives of the City of Rijeka.