In an interview with SETimes, Croatia's president says the upcoming European Parliament elections are important for Croatia and the Western Balkans.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb -- 16/04/14
Croatia's MEPs are working to secure an EU future for the region, Croatian President Ivo Josipovic told SETimes. [AFP]
Western Balkan countries on the path to EU accession can expect the unconditional support of Croatia's European Parliament members, officials said.
Croatian officials and experts said the experience of European Parliament MPs, who will be elected on May 25th, is valuable to the countries in the region.
During the past year, the Croatian representatives in the European Parliament (EP) have been active in advocating for Southeast Europe, particularly in promoting further enlargement of the EU.
"This idea that the EU is neither whole nor complete without the inclusion of countries of Southeast Europe was incorporated into the resolution of the European Parliament thanks to the dedication and efforts of Croatian MPs," Croatia President Ivo Josipovic told SETimes.
Josipovic said the European Parliament is the perfect place to gauge the mood toward extension of the EU, and for MPs to affect the attitude toward Union enlargement.
"I do not wish to prejudge the results of the upcoming elections, but active support and assistance for our neighbours to become EU members as soon as possible represents the mainstream of the Croatian political scene," Josipovic told SETimes. "I expect that the future Croatian representatives act as advocates and promoters of the idea of a united Europe that guarantees peace, security, stability and prosperity of all its components."
Experts said neighbouring countries, including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, will benefit from the interest of the Croatian representatives.
"The European Parliament is equal to the Council of the EU in making decisions, so it is very much important that the countries in the region try to develop good relations with the EP, particularly through relationships with Croatian representatives," Irena Dokic, director of the European Education Forum, a Zagreb NGO focused on EU integration, told SETimes. "This experience can be valuable to all the countries in the region. Co-operation is possible on an individual basis or through institutional co-operation with the EP."
Many from the region agree.
''It is important for politicians from Serbia to actively co-operate and communicate with Croatian politicians in order to stay in touch with EU politics and plans," Snezana Milisavic, a teacher from Zajecar, Serbia, told SETimes. "Croats are our first neighbours, we speak the same language, we have the common history. Who can understand them better than us?"
Croatian voters will elect 11 MEPs to the 751-member European Parliament. Elections for the European Parliament will take place in the 28 EU member countries from May 22nd to 25th.
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