“President Milanović believes that Ukraine should be granted EU membership candidate status as soon as possible,” a statement said.
Milanović thus supported the initiative by eight European Union member states that had called for Ukraine to be granted candidate status.
“Ukraine is being subjected to aggression by the Russian Federation and we all need to provide it with the necessary assistance, just as we would have expected assistance in a similar situation,” the Croatian president said.
“Croatia is not forgetting that Ukraine was among the first internationally recognised countries to recognise Croatia and was among the first to come to our aid,” he added.
Milanović said that the fast-track integration of Ukraine into the European Union was one of the ways to stop the war and prevent it from spreading in Europe.
On Monday, the presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia said in an open letter that Ukraine “deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective.”
“We call on the member states to consolidate the strongest political support for Ukraine and to allow the EU institutions to take steps to immediately grant Ukraine candidate status and open the negotiation process,” the letter said.
Support for Western Balkan countries, Serbia should decide
Milanović said that everything should be done to prevent the Ukraine crisis from spilling over to the Western Balkans and affecting Croatia and its neighbours.
He said it was in Croatia’s strategic and national interests for the Western Balkan countries which had demonstrated their readiness and intent to join the Union.
Milanović proposed to the signatories of the open letter to also demand membership candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo and recommended immediately opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, which already have candidate status.
The Croatian president also said that talks with Montenegro should be stepped up, while Serbia, “at this critical moment for peace in Europe, should decide whether it really wants membership or not and conduct its policy accordingly. The EU must let it know that this is a moment of decision.”