ZAGREB, February 16, 2018 – In an interview with the Austrian Kurier daily published on Thursday, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that Croatia is open to the aspirations of all countries in the Western Balkans to join the European Union and that a solution to the border dispute with Slovenia is closer than it appears.
“I am pleased that the European Commission is now pursuing an open strategy with regard to enlargement,” Plenković said. He added that the year 2025 mentioned in the strategy as the year for possible accession of some of the Western Balkan countries to the EU is just a framework date and that it is “better than no date at all.”
He also underscored that all countries have to meet the required criteria for membership and stressed that Croatia has the most recent experience with the EU accession process and that it is prepared to share its knowledge with others. He in particular singled out Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is a priority for us. A historical responsibility exists and we want to help,” Plenković said.
With regard to cooperation with Serbia, Plenković said that Croatia is the fourth largest investor in Serbia and that it is high time to resolve problems that have existed between the two countries for the past 25 years. At the same time, he noted that the historical burden is still great.
“It is a fact that Croatia was a victim of Milošević’s regime which significantly slowed us down on our EU journey. Had there been no war, we would probably have become a member of the EU in 2004. That prevented a generation of Croatians from catching up with Western Europe,” Plenković said.
Plenković described the Croatian-Slovenian border dispute as serious but also emphasised that it need not be overdramatised. “We are much closer to finding a solution to this problem than it appears,” he said.
In conclusion, Plenković underscored that, before the end of the year, Croatia will have satisfied all the criteria to enter the Schengen Area.