Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns today announced that Croation will soon be the newest member of the European Union.
At the Croatia Summit 2011 Dubrovnik, Mr. Burns said he was especially glad to have the opportunity to celebrate with the citizens of Croatia as they celebrate 20 years of Croatian independence.
Mr. Burns congratulated Croatia on the June 30th success in meeting the requirements to accede to the European Union.
“The leadership and people of Croatia, deserve enormous credit for meeting the exacting criteria of the European Union. The United States has supported you through every step of this process and I hope you will not mind if we take some pride in your accomplishment.” -Mr. Burns
Mr. Burns also congratulated the European Commission for its vision, patience and persistence in opening the doors of the EU to the countries of the Western Balkans and assisting them through the process.
“Croatia will soon be the newest member of the EU, but we eagerly await the day when the remaining countries of the region are able to join as well and we stand ready to assist them. Drawing on its successful experience, Croatia can and I am sure will play a special role in supporting the efforts of neighboring countries to join the EU and NATO.” -Mr. Burns
He stressed that all of the countries of the Western Balkans have committed themselves to the European project. He added that all have agreed that European and Euro-Atlantic integration represent the best path forward for the region.
“On that note, we thank Croatia for your contributions to our common struggle in the world’s most challenging battlefield, Afghanistan.” -Mr. Burns
He underscored that Croatia’s success demonstrates that progress that can be made, albeit with hard work and sacrifice, to advance the interests of the region’s citizens. He highlighted that the momentum that comes with the transition for Croatia should be encouraged and cultivated throughout the region.
Mr. Burns also stressed that it will be important for Croatia to continue working with neighbors to resolve outstanding regional issues.
Croatia had applied for EU membership in 2003. Candidate country status was granted to Croatia by the European Council in 2004.