President Mesić received Ambassador Vincent Degert, the head of the European Commission Delegation to Croatia, in a farewell visit. On that occasion, President Mesić decorated Ambassador Degert with a high state decoration as a sign of appreciation for his contribution in Croatia's accession negotiations.
After the meeting, Ambassador Degert made a statement to the Croatian press stressing that Croatia had made great progress on its path to EU membership during his four-year term in the country.
"I came here only a few weeks after the opening of accession negotiations, and in these four years great progress has been made, a foundation has been laid for the completion of the negotiations, which I hope will happen relatively quickly," Degert told reporters after a farewell visit to President Stjepan Mesić.
Mr.Degert said that the few remaining political obstacles would discourage no one from working towards the goal of EU membership. "Hard work should be done this summer in order to confirm the great achievements, probably in the autumn," the French diplomat said.
Asked by reporters if Croatia should meet the demands set by Slovenia relating to their bilateral border dispute in order to remove the obstacles in negotiations, Degert said that the two countries no doubt needed to reach an agreement on how they wanted to resolve the problem.
He recalled the many initiatives that had been undertaken to solve that problem. All those proposals exist and all the options that are on the table should now be considered in order to establish dialogue between the two countries, Degert said, adding that the European Commission was willing to join in that process if Slovenia and Croatia so wished.
Asked if he had expected Croatia to do more in the EU integration process when he arrived in Zagreb, Degert described accession negotiations as a marathon race, expressing confidence that Croatia would reach the goal very soon.
Mr.Degert said he was confident that Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor would have enough energy to meet the necessary commitments, adding that he was pleased that Kosor had expressed her full commitment to continuing negotiations with Brussels and that she had contacted Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor in order to resume efforts to settle the dispute between the two countries.
At the end, Mr.Degert expressed satisfaction that the process of dealing with the problem of the Croatian shipyards had finally begun, saying that he would be closely following how the remaining issues were being dealt with, such as the reform of agriculture and the judicial system and the fight against corruption.