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Croatia Concerned About Situation in Macedonia, Says Foreign Affairs Minister

mvepFirst Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusić is attending a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels…

Ahead of the meeting, Pusić commented on the EU-Serbia talks. “From the start Croatia has supported Serbia’s path to fulfilling criteria during all phases of getting closer to the EU, concluding with membership. Nevertheless, our stance is that key conditions have to be met,” Pusić said.

“We have welcomed the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina, but it needs to be implemented. One of the key issues in that regard is to allow Kosovo to participate in regional associations,” the minister said, adding that it was important for Serbia to distance itself from attempts to rehabilitate WWII Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović as it sent a bad message to the region.

“We hope that Serbia will be able to meet the necessary criteria and that this year negotiations can truly be launched on some chapters. As far as Croatia is concerned, we consider Chapters 23 and 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and Justice, Freedom and Security to be particularly important,” Pusić said.

Ahead of the session, the EU foreign ministers discussed the Ukrainian crisis and upcoming Riga summit. Pusić said that Ukraine expected visa liberalization and the implementation of the free trade and association agreement with the EU, which Croatia has ratified in the meantime. Also, the Ukrainian side expects a clear message on Ukraine’s European prospect in Riga, the minister said.

Speaking about the situation in Macedonia, Pusić said that Croatia was extremely concerned about it. “We think it’s the most sensitive spot in the entire region. We believe it is important not to push the political differences towards ethnic conflicts and ethnic differences because in the Balkans, once political differences turn into ethnic ones, this always has unpredictable, destabilising and potentially very dangerous consequences,” she said.

Pusić also commented on the migration issue, stressing that a solution had to be found to distribute the burden among the EU member states in accordance with their population. “Also, the problem has to be dealt with at its core. After my visit to Iraq, I can say that wherever there is a functioning government, it is possible to cooperate in solving the problem within that country itself, before people decide to flee across the Mediterranean,” Pusić concluded. (MVEP)

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