09 06 2012 - Brijuni
Address by President Josipović at the reception for the diplomatic corps accredited to Croatia
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
I am pleased to meet with you again on the Brijuni Islands, at our traditional annual gathering. I wish you a pleasant stay and hope that once again you will enjoy some of the scenic spots of your receiving state and discuss cooperation and friendship between our countries.
Several weeks ago we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Croatia's admission to the United Nations. This was one of the most significant moments in the history of my country. Over these 20 years, I believe that we have clearly shown that we understood both the possibilities offered by but also commitments arising from state freedom and sovereignty.
At an accelerated pace, we had to go through a number of demanding social, political and economic processes of transition and in addition to all this, we had to fully align ourselves with the European Union standards. This was neither easy nor simple. I am proud of all the good we have achieved and aware of the major tasks still lying ahead.
Provided that everything goes as planned, Croatia should in one year’s time become a European Union member state. To us, this will mean joining a new paradigm of planning and making decisions, as well as a new kind of responsibility which significantly exceeds the limits of our own interests.
My message today is that Croatia is prepared to take on this task, both as a society and as a state.
Reforms will not cease with the conclusion of negotiations or our accession, to be sure. We are aware of all the deficits we still have and appreciate your understanding and support. We are aware of our commitments arising from the monitoring, we know all that yet needs to be done and we are working on it on a daily basis.
I take this opportunity to thank all the Union members states that have already ratified Croatia's Accession Treaty and call upon all those that are in the process of doing this to do so. Thus, in one year’s time we could jointly celebrate not only Croatia's membership in the Union but also the strength and the vision of the European Union.
I thank representatives of the European Commission and EU embassies to Zagreb who have been thus far and are still daily with us offering their support to the accomplishment of this major objective.
The reforms that need to be undertaken in order to become a member state of the European Union are exceptionally demanding. At times, Croatia may have appeared as a country pursuing one goal only since all its forces were focused on bringing accession negotiations to an end and creating prerequisites necessary for the country's membership in the Union. This major, historic goal has almost been accomplished.
I am confident that in the period ahead Croatia will have more opportunities and capacity to strengthen its relations with its partners and friends worldwide.
Croatia has an excellent geographic and political position, particularly as a country linking the EU and Southeast Europe. This comparative advantage should be made functional. We want to be an area from which one can equally well communicate both regionally, Europewide and globally.
In the forthcoming period, we plan to significantly strengthen our relationship to China, Russia, Turkey, countries of the Arab world and Asian countries as much as we possibly can, considering the fact that Croatia is, in terms of its population, much smaller than some of them.
Also, it is time to increase our communication with the countries of South and Central America, New Zealand and Australia, the countries with significant Croatian diaspora representing a strong bond between our cultures.
I would like to make special reference to the need to enhance our relations with the countries of the African continent. Many former students of Zagreb University live and work there and in these countries our companies built for years the most important infrastructural facilities.
I wish we worked more on the programmes of exchange in art and culture in general, in education and science, in sports. It is important to establish contacts, in the first place among people, since they are the most precious part of cooperation among states and societies.
Croatia is proud of its lasting partnership with the United States of America, ranging from our joint efforts made in the region to our alliance in the peace-keeping missions. The support and friendship offered to us by the United States of America testify much more than good bilateral relations between the two states.
Croatia strives to be a very active member of multilateral fora. We believe that we have some experience that may be of use to countries that went through situations similar to ours. The issue of conflict management, building post-conflict society, minority rights, state-building process in general, are some of the experiences that can be applied to similar situations in crisis spots and Croatia is willing to help as much as it possibly can.
Finally, something that matters very much to us and me personally is cooperation with the neighbouring countries and the entire region. I do not miss any opportunity – be it a meeting with a foreign statesman or an appearance at an international forum – to reiterate one and the same message: all the countries of Southeast Europe need to become European Union member states because this is the best and possibly the only way for this region to be permanently transformed into a region of peace, stability and development.
We have seen on our own example that Croatia has, during its negotiation process, become a better country. It has become more predictable and regulated, more stable and easier to communicate and cooperate with. This very predictability, stability and cooperation are elements that all the countries in the region need.
The situation at the moment is not the best. I do not want to enumerate either countries or examples, but you, accredited to Zagreb, are close enough to the region to know that there is still plenty of internal tension, poor economy, slow reforms and even revisionism. These are not only challenges for the countries of the region but also challenges for all of us. The border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon become the longest border of the European Union with a non-EU country – this is a challenge but more than that, this is a great opportunity.
I wish we sent a joint message to the countries of the region that enlargement policy will be pursued with equal seriousness and intensity. Croatia will certainly offer its full support, both technical and political, to all its neighbours.
By means of a Croatian Parliament declaration, we have committed ourselves not to use bilateral problems as a pretext for slowing down or weakening the association process and you can rest assured that we shall live up to it.
The stability of the region is Croatia’s vital interest and we shall protect and promote it.
Finally, the greatest challenge that Croatia is currently facing is how to revive its economy. The prolonged period of stagnation of our economy against the backdrop of uncertainties of the world financial markets is the reason for poor inflow of foreign capital over the last three years.
From 1993 (the year of the first direct investments) to 2011, the total volume of foreign investments to Croatia was 25.7 billion euro or 6,000 euro per capita. This places Croatia in the upper tier of European countries with similar characteristics. However, the problem with these investments is their unfavourable structure and shortage of industrial green-field investments that would contribute to a rise in exports. The fundamental questions for Croatia’s economy today are how to open new jobs and how to increase economic prosperity. For this reason, creation of a business-friendly and investment-friendly climate is of crucial importance.
I support all Croatian Government’s efforts aimed at providing best possible conditions for investment. I also call upon you to encourage business people from your countries to come with their specific projects and suggestions. I will make a personal commitment to support all good ideas whenever necessary.
In conclusion let me say that the doors of my Office are always open to you and my advisers and all Office staff are at your disposal whenever this is necessary in the interest of our countries and our common goals.