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Croatia pledges to help fellow Western Balkan countries on path to EU

Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Jandrokovic said on Saturday that his country is willing to assist fellow Western Balkan countries on their path to EU membership by offering them its experience and advice.

“Croatia is ready to help with its experience, advice and expertise. It has been and remains our policy,” Jandrokovic told a press conference after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers with their counterparts from Western Balkan countries in the Slovenian resort of Brdo in suburban Ljubljana. The EU foreign ministers reaffirmed on Saturday the bloc’s commitment to the European integration of the Western Balkan countries, including Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Croatia became an official candidate for EU membership in June 2004 and has been widely tipped to join the bloc possibly as early as 2010. Jandrokovic said that only the prospect of EU membership would lead to the lasting stabilization of the region, which had been plagued by war, ethnic conflicts and turmoil during the 1990s. Jandrokovic said that Croatia was not in the focus of the meeting, except in a part where Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn stressed the positive role of Croatia in stabilizing the region and reiterated that after the resolution of the problem of the Croatian fishing zone in the Adriatic it was possible that Croatia would complete its EU accession negotiations by the autumn of 2009.

Asked about the pace of necessary reforms and a delay in the process of adjustment of Croatian laws to those of the EU, Jandrokovic said that Croatia was ready to do all that was necessary to meet the set deadlines, aware that it was a huge job, because 120 laws and 350 regulations needed to be adopted. “We will pick up the necessary pace in the Q2 and do all that is planned,” Jandrokovic said. (