US Vice President Biden Coming to Zagreb for Regional Summit

Total Croatia News

Zagreb ready for the arrival of the American Vice President.

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Zagreb tomorrow to attend a summit of Southeast Europe, which is a sign of more active involvement of the United States in resolving regional problems and in turning the region towards western values. US Vice President will participate in a meeting of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, an initiative which brings together countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania. Biden is the highest US official to visit Croatia since Barack Obama became the president of the United States. In addition to presidents of all the countries in the region, the meeting will include the President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Austrian President Heinz Fischer, reports Novlist on November 24, 2015.

Office of Croatian President announced that it will be a strategic meeting which should bring the region closer to western values and that the meeting represents a return of the United States to the regional scene, after a decisive role in ending the war in Bosnia in 1995. “The United States are back at the table. The problems in the region have been going on for too long and we do not want to have an unstable neighbourhood”, a source close to the Croatian President said last week. “Washington is aware of the challenges facing Southeast Europe and it wants to contribute to solving some of these problems”, the source added.

Refugee crisis affecting Europe has overshadowed other issues in the Croatian neighbourhood – internal conflicts in Montenegro about NATO accession, unresolved relationship between Serbia and Kosovo, and the Islamization of traditionally secular Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania.

President’s Office points out that stable neighbourhood is crucial for Croatian national security, because a single incident could destroy Croatian tourism, which accounts for about 20 percent of Croatia’s GDP. Many believe that Croatia, where Muslims make up two percent of the population, could become a model of their successful integration into a European society.

Then US President George Bush visited Zagreb in 2008, and in 2012 Croatia was visited by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. After years when Southeast Europe was not in the focus of the US foreign policy, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović wants to make the United States again interested in the region where three “empires” are overlapping: the Western (EU), Orthodox (Russia) and Islamic (Turkey).

Biden’s arrival is seen as a confirmation that Zagreb is the main partner of Washington in Southeast Europe, but also in the Baltic-Adriatic-Black Sea region. This new foreign policy orientation, which has been inaugurated by Grabar-Kitarović, strengthens the role of Croatia within the EU.

The Brdo-Brijuni Process has been inaugurated by Slovenia and Croatia with the goal of promoting regional cooperation and resolving outstanding issues, thus contributing to the stabilization of Southeast Europe. In 2013, then Croatian President Ivo Josipović and his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor launched the initiative of annual meetings of heads of states of Southeast Europe, together with distinguished guests from leading countries of the European Union. The dialogue was started in Zagreb on July 1, 2013, on the day when Croatia entered the EU, and was continued later that same year at Brdo in Slovenia with a joint meeting with French President Francois Hollande. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was a guest of the summit in Dubrovnik in 2014, while Austrian President Heinz Fischer attended the summit in the Montenegrin resort of Budva.


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