Zagreb: Croatia`s first female president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, was sworn in on Sunday and pledged to help kickstart the EU member`s ailing economy.
The 46-year-old conservative former foreign minister and NATO official narrowly defeated her left-wing predecessor Ivo Josipovic in an election run-off in January.
The leading member of the main opposition HDZ party will serve a five-year term.
"I will be a top economic diplomat of our country," she said in her inaugural speech.
She pledged to do her utmost "to make Croatia a wealthy nation."
"I want that after almost two years of (EU) membership, we all eventually start to live the life of a European Union member," Grabar-Kitarovic said.
Hopes that EU membership would boost the economy of the small Adriatic nation of 4.2 million have faded.
The Croatian economy, hit by a six-year recession, remains among the weakest in the 28-nation bloc. Unemployment is almost 20 percent and the government forecasts a meagre 0.5 percent growth this year.
Grabar-Kitarovic gave her speech immediately after the swearing-in ceremony at Saint Marc`s square in the old quarter of Zagreb.
Apart from hundreds of Croatians and top local officials the inauguration was also attended by the presidents of Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Serbia`s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic was also present. The Croatian president has a largely ceremonial role.
Grabar-Kitarovic is the former Yugoslav republic`s fourth president since its independence in 1991.