Croatia supports the enlargement of the EU to neighbouring countries, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Slovenia on Tuesday, warning that without a clear message to Southeast European countries about their EU membership prospect room was being created for other global powers in that region.
“Croatia’s position is very clear. We support the prospect of EU membership, the process of EU enlargement to our neighbours. We consider it very important and believe that we should strongly send that message also today,” Plenkovic told reporters ahead of an informal working dinner with other EU leaders to attend an EU-Western Balkans summit in Brdo Pri Kranju on Wednesday.
He added that the declaration to be adopted at the summit would contain terms such as European prospect and enlargement process but that it was not realistic to expect it to state the time-frame for the Western Balkan countries’ accession.
The Slovenian EU Presidency has proposed that the declaration state that the EU should be prepared to admit all Western Balkan countries by 2030 at the latest.
This is opposed primarily by Western European countries but it is good that the issue of time-frame is being raised, Plenkovic said, adding that the aspirants still had a lot work to do but “we will do our best to make the process as fast and as good as possible.”
Plenkovic today also attended a meeting of the European People’s Party and met with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
“I think it is good that the situation on the border between Kosovo and Serbia has de-escalated,” Plenkovic said, adding that he would also meet briefly with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday.
He noted that it is “neither appropriate not normal” to block the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia, especially after it resolved its name dispute with Greece and joined NATO.
Commenting on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he reiterated Croatia’s position.
“All those who were in Dayton and Paris know well what the concept 1,2,3 means. We want the legitimate representation of the constituent peoples to be reflected, also through a fair election law, in the highest BiH bodies of representation, and I am talking here about the Presidency,” he said, describing as an anomaly “a situation in which Bosniaks elect the Croat member of the Presidency.”
“The more we use euphemisms, vague expressions… the more we create political, economic, financial, energy, media room for other global powers to be present and exert more influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina or any other Southeast European country. That is why our message is: a clear political prospect, fulfillment of the membership criteria, a systematic process towards membership and strong economic and financial assistance,” said Plenkovic.
The leaders of EU member-states will discuss at the informal working dinner the consequences of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the EU’s strategic autonomy, as well as economy and energy-related topics.