José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement following the meeting with Croatian President Ivo Josipovi ć
Joint press point
Brussels, 5 March 2010
Good morning. It is my pleasure to welcome President Ivo Josipović and congratulate him on his election.
I want also to thank him for his continuous support to Croatia's EU integration as he has clearly demonstrated during the electoral campaign.
I have reiterated to President Josipović my personal as well as the Commission's strong support to Croatia's efforts on its way to accession.
A swift conclusion of negotiations in the near future is possible but getting there will be very demanding. Good progress has been made so far but outstanding benchmarks have still to be met.
There are clearly very positive signals coming from Croatia. I particularly welcome President Josipović's strong commitment to fight corruption. Such a commitment is fundamental as further progress is still needed to combat corruption and organised crime. We look forward to a solid track record of concrete results.
I also welcome President's Josipović's constructive position on regional issues. Promoting regional stability and fostering relations with neighbouring countries in a genuine European spirit is a fundamental element of European integration.
I trust that Croatia will pursue with determination the necessary actions to meet the remaining key challenges.
They include further reform of the judiciary and public administration, respect of minority rights, and full co-operation with ICTY, which remains essential in particular for the opening of chapter 23 on Judiciary and fundamental rights.
No one has been spared from the impact of the global crisis and it is also important for Croatia to pursue structural reforms in order to be competitive in the European market.
Let me conclude on this final remark. Accession to the EU is a two way street. The EU is ready to welcome Croatia as a new member. But, when the negotiations will be closed Croatians will have to be ready to fully join the EU.
This is not a mere institutional issue. This is about a heartfelt conviction of the benefits of integration. I know you President, you hold this European conviction. I am confident you will fully share it with your compatriots.