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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Speech by President Barroso at the opening ceremony of the EU Representation in Zagreb
Opening ceremony of the EU Representation in Zagreb/Zagreb
1 July 2013
Prime Minister Milanović
Deputy Prime Minister Pusić
Vice-President Miguel Angel Martínez,
Minister Thierry Repentin,
Colleagues from the Commission – Štefan Füle, Neven Mimica,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dobro jutro Hrvatska. Dobro došla u Europsku Uniju!
This morning Croatians have woken up for the first time as citizens of the European Union – after a fantastic celebration last night!
As the famous Croatian poet Petar Preradović once said: "In this world only change is constant." And Croatia has changed, to the better! It is a fundamentally different place than 20 years ago, a proud and confident member of the European family. There is full respect for fundamental rights, the rule of law, non-discrimination, and a more modern economy. It's the efforts of all Croatians who have made this change possible.
Just as Croatians have changed Croatia, so your country can help change this part of Europe. Your accession to the European Union is a signal. You have shown that it is not only possible to overcome the burdens of the past, to work towards reconciliation and a better future for all – but that it is in everybody's own interest. This is the spirit that Europe is about!
These positive changes are not the end, they are a new beginning. Every day, we must all work to defend and uphold these values, the European values. Every day, we must all work to enjoy the benefits of the European Union.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The European Union is not simply an end in itself. The European Union, for all the challenges it faces today, is a tool that enables you – its citizens - to shape your own futures for the better.
This new Representation which we are opening today – this truly European house - is here to help you do that: to provide information about the European Union, to answer your questions, and to act as your advocate.
On your path to the European Union, the European Commission stood by your side. We provided support and assistance. We will continue to do so.
We will support you in Brussels and right here in the heart of your beautiful capital city Zagreb. There will be significant financial support, over €1 billion a year until 2020. But more than this, we offer the support that a family gives to any of its members.
This will be for the benefit of Croatia, for the benefit of Europe and above all for the benefit of you, the citizens of our newest Member State. This is of course a way of waiting for your contribution to our very important European project.
Let me conclude with a personal remark. When some time ago, together with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, we were receiving, on behalf of the European Union, the Nobel peace prize, it was precisely about this idea of a reconciled, united Europe that we were thinking. How big, how important is this project that is able to unite a continent that before was divided? How actual are indeed our commitments to the great goals of peace, of freedom, solidarity and justice?
I thank you for your attention.