ZAGREB, February 16, 2018 – Croatia is generally in favour of the European Union enlargement, but is against changing the content of the documents that define how that process should be conducted, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić said in Sofia on Thursday.
The Croatian minister was speaking to reporters on the margins of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers who were discussing, among other things, the recently published enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans.
“Croatia is generally in favour of enlargement and raising this topic to a higher level within the EU, but it is against changing the content, especially the content of some of the documents that define how the enlargement process will be conducted,” Pejčinović Burić said. “A negotiating framework is given for each country. The framework for Serbia says that, unless a bilateral agreement is reached on border issues, they will be taken either to an international court or to arbitration. The present document mentions only arbitration, which is unacceptable to us,” the Croatian minister said. Croatia will try to resolve all its issues bilaterally, and if that is not possible, it will approach a permanent international court such as the one in The Hague, she added.
Pejčinović Burić said that Croatia considered it important that the enlargement issue was again raised to a higher level, “which is good for us and for the EU”. “We think that enlargement is an important EU policy, it is important for the stability and prosperity of both Croatia and the European Union, as well as this part of Southeastern Europe. It is very important that all countries aspiring to join the EU should have a membership perspective,” she said. “It is also important to preserve the credibility of the enlargement process on both sides – the EU should support it and the aspirant countries should do their homework,” she added.
“It should be made clear that the criteria will not be lowered and that they are based on a very clear conditionality, that is that there will be no problems for those that meet the criteria and that their progress will depend on the speed of reforms that they implement,” Pejčinović Burić said.