Excellencies, Messrs Presidents,
High representatives of the member countries of our group,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me special pleasure to participate in another meeting at the highest level of the G-11 member countries, a group assembling states with lower middle income. This group was founded in late summer 2005 thanks to the initiative of our host. Although the Republic of Croatia, strictly speaking, does not fit fully into the criteria on the basis of which the group was formed, I have accepted the invitation to take part in it being aware that there are much more elements that bring us closer to the G-11 group than those that set us apart from it.
Moreover, the basic purpose of establishing the G-11 group is in no way contrary to the foreign-policy priority of my country and this is integration into the European Union. For this reason, we have given our wholehearted support to this group so far and will continue to do so in the future as well.
Forming a common platform in order to secure additional support for our countries through increased assistance and investments, expansion of trade and alleviation of debt burden is completely in line with creating conditions for sustainable development, which is one of the proclaimed goals of the United Nations. We all agree that it is necessary to strengthen the rule of law and transparency, to implement reforms and all this with the view of reaching millennial development goals and laying a solid foundation for the global economy.
By giving their contribution to development, our countries also give their indispensable contribution to the strengthening of peace and security in the global framework. I would add that they are at the same time giving their contribution to the struggle against global terrorism because it is my firm conviction that this struggle cannot be led only by military means but also by eliminating an environment that gives rise to terrorism. And is there a better response to those who preach terrorism than development?
States assembled in the G-11 group are faced with the same or similar challenges. They vary, of course, from country to country, but we all know what it means to grapple with unemployment, poverty, insufficiently developed infrastructure and - ever more intensely and ever more urgently - with climate change too. In some of these areas, my country, the Republic of Croatia, has made significant breakthroughs and our experience may be of use to others too.
We are implementing the reform of state administration and justice and we are ever more deeply engaged in the fight against corruption. We are persistent in our efforts to consolidate democracy and to make this commitment to democracy our lasting course. In this context, allow me to present my view that there is not one single democratic model, nor can that model, materialised in one country or a group of countries, be simply copied in other countries and it is even less possible and permissible to impose it on them.
Democracy is that model of conduct to which we are committed in relations within our states; however, democracy must exist in interstate relations as well. The principle of non-interference into internal affairs of others was used by some in the past as an alibi for complete arbitrariness within their own borders and this is unacceptable. However, it is equally unacceptable to advocate absolute freedom of interference into internal affairs of others under the guise of a fight for democracy.
Democracy must not be imposed but has to be a reflection and expression of freely expressed will of citizens of each individual country and each democratic model has to take into account specific features of the countries it is realised in. I am referring to this because democratisation and political liberalisation are among our proclaimed goals.
Of course, I support economic liberalisation but in this circle too I wish to say with utmost clarity that I consider it necessary to oppose a further erosion of social rights and dying away of welfare state in the context of assertion of the neo-liberal model.
The issue of energy and energy sources is increasingly catching our attention. This will be topic under discussion in late June in Zagreb where – at my initiative – the energy summit of ten countries of South-eastern Europe is taking place. I am certain that on that occasion too we shall support the concept of reducing dependence on oil supply, orientation towards renewable energy sources as well as a need for increased environmental protection.
Developing countries - and we all belong to this category although we differ in the degree of development - will remain, in the forthcoming period, oriented toward assistance from outside in order to be able to ensure their own development and draw closer to achieving their reform goals. I believe that the readiness to render this assistance will rise together with the awareness that developed countries – investing in those not so developed – are in fact doing something to their own benefit.
I support the goals of our group in the way formulated in the document presented to us. I consider it good, good not only for us, that there is – apart from the group of the most developed countries G-8 – also G-11 group of states of lower middle income. These countries too have both the right and the need to formulate their needs, their development visions and their goals. Over the past more than seven years since I assumed the office of the President of the Republic of Croatia I have been a witness of a number of international initiatives that were taken but then soon forgotten.
This initiative has not been forgotten and the fact that we are today meeting again next to the World Economic Forum testifies to the fact that the world needs it. I am confident that this will remain so in the future and am looking forward to continuing our cooperation.