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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement of President Barroso on Croatia after the European Council
Joint press conference with European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, and the Croatian Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor
24 June 2011
Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen,
We stand on the verge of a historic moment for Croatia and for the Western Balkans as a whole, and also for the European Union.
On 10 June, the Commission has been able to recommend the closure of the accession negotiations with Croatia. This has been possible thanks to the hard work of the Croatian authorities. I would like to pay particular tribute to Prime Minister Kosor for her work and leadership over the last months.
Discussions with Member States based on the Commission's positions have been progressing well in the Council and I would like also to thank the Hungarian Presidency of the Council for its commitment in this very important programme.
Negotiations have been concluded with strict conditionality, by setting benchmarks which had to be met by Croatia to demonstrate its preparedness to join the European Union. Achieving this has been a common path undertaken by Croatia and the Commission, which has provided advice and guidance to help Croatia aligning with the acquis and setting up the necessary implementing structures.
Today the Heads of State and Government have recognised the quality of this work over a number of years and the progress made by Croatia. Today the European Council has called for the closure of the accession negotiations by the end of June with a view to the signing of the accession treaty before the end of the year. The Commission thinks that this should allow for Croatia to join the European Union on the 1st of July 2013. I am confident that Croatia will continue its preparations for membership until then with the same vigour as it has done over the past months.
The accession of Croatia should be an example for the other countries of the Western Balkans. Croatia demonstrates that if a country meets our strict conditionality, we as the European Union respect our commitments under the Thessaloniki agenda. The European perspective of the Western Balkans is very real. It is also a significant contribution to peace, reconciliation and stability in the Western Balkans.
Prime Minister Kosor, my sincere congratulations for the important step achieved today. Some months ago, I had the pleasure to visit you in Zagreb. I remember well our conversation and so I am also personally very pleased to share today this moment with you, in the company of President Van Rompuy and Prime Minister Orbán.
I am looking forward to welcoming Croatia as a 28th Member State. I am also looking forward to welcome a Commissioner from Croatia during the mandate of this College.
Once again congratulations!