- Title: BELGIUM: EU ANNOUNCES CROATIA IS FORMALLY ON THE ROAD TO MEMBERSHIP.
- Date: 18th June 2004
- Summary: (CEEF) BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (JUNE 18, 2004) (POOL - ACCESS ALL) 1. CROAT PRIME MINISTER IVO SANANDER AND COMMISSION PRESIDENT ROMANO PRODI CHATTING 2. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMISSION PRESIDENT ROMANO PRODI SAYING: "I want only to express my happiness because everything went well in this long long approach and this is the best premonition for the future. I think that now we are starting another step together. The commission will work with Croatia side by side" 3. PRESS ROOM 4. MAP OF EUROPE AND PAN TO CROAT PRIME MINISTER IVO SANANDER 5. JOURNALISTS SITTING 6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CROAT PRIME MINISTER IVO SANANDER SAYING: "No doubt that European Union is showing with today's decision that they have a serious plan with this part of Europe. The Thessaloniki summit of the last year or last spring showed that Europe has opened its perspective for all countries in our part of Europe. Croatia is the first one, the others are to follow so this is also very encouraging for them who want to follow the example of Croatia. We are ready to assist the International community to reach an overall stabilisation for the whole region. It is in the interest of Europe, it is in the interest of these people" 7. REPORTERS 8. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CROAT PRIME MINISTER IVO SANANDER SAYING: "Our ambition is to be ready to full membership in 2007. Certainly the EU will have to decide whether Croatia will become a full member in 2007 or not but our ambition is to finishing the negotiations within this 2 and a half, 3 years. Im sure that with today's decision by the council, Croatia's international position is very strengthened. Its a much more reliable partner, it is much more a country which is also more attractive for the foreign investors" 9. CROATIAN DELEGATES 10. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CROAT PRIME MINISTER IVO SANANDER SAYING: "We have been expecting or waiting for this decision from the European Council so we didn't want to win against France yesterday. And now, since we got this positive decision by the council today, we are going to win against England" Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 3rd July 2004 13:00
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Reuters ID: LVADXXKDSYV0BHZ02HL6MUM6ZOM1
- Story Text: EU announces Croatia is formally on the road towards
The European Union gave Croatia the status of a
candidate country for entry on Friday (June 18) and vowed
efforts to sign accession treaties with Bulgaria and
Romania early next year.
EU leaders decided at a summit entry that talks with
Croatia will start early next year, and Croat Prime
Sanander said his country aimed to catch up with Bulgaria
and Romania to join the bloc in 2007, two year earlier than
expected by analysts.
"I want only to express my happiness because everything
went well in this long long approach and this is the best
premonition for the future. I think that now we are
starting another step together. The commission will work
with Croatia side by side", European Commission President Romano Prodi
told reporters after EU leaders deemed the
western Balkan country economically and politically fit to
launch EU entry talks.
At a press conference, Sanander said Europe had opened
its perspective for all countries in that part of Europe
and added that Croatia was ready to assist the
international community to reach an overall stabilisation
of the region.
Croatia, at war with the neighbouring former Yugoslav
Republic of Serbia in the early 1990s, has vowed to spread
stablity in the Balkans and implement tough economic
reforms to complete accession negotiations in
"Our ambition is to be ready to full membership in
2007. Certainly the EU will have to decide whether Croatia
will become a full member in 2007 or not but our ambition
is to finishing the negotiations within this 2 and a half,
3 years", Sanader said at a news conference.
He also pledged good cooperation with the U.N. tribunal
investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
Still , some thorny issues remain and the EU is warning
that efforts still need to be addressed such as minority
refugee returns, reform of the judiciary, regional
co-operation, the fight against corruption and crucially,
co-operation with the
International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.
The document presses Zagreb to maintain full
co-operation with ICTY and urges the country to find a
General Ante Gotovina into court custody.
The UK and the Netherlands have heavily criticised
Croatia for not being able to bring former general Ante
Gotovina to the
Both countries had refused to ratify an association
agreement which paves the way for membership until there was
increased co-operation from Zagreb.
The Netherlands has now ratified the agreement and the
UK is expected to do so before the summer recess of
Italy is also expected to ratify the agreement after
some unrelated issues were resolved.
Heads of state and government are also expected to
encourage other countries in the Western Balkans to move
towards joining the EU.
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