Spanning a decade, the process of Croatia’s EU accession was long and at times, challenging. The country had to negotiate more chapters than any previous aspiring EU membership candidate. Moreover, the entry criteria were stricter than ever.
Nevertheless, the resulting benefits for our society are invaluable. The perspective of membership was a strong driving force which accelerated Croatia on its road toward numerous reforms in the past years. The reforms implemented as part of the harmonisation with the acquis communautaire have led to better and more advanced institutions, guaranteeing Croatian citizens higher standards of living.
Croatia’s EU membership is, therefore, the logical follow-up to overall political, institutional and economic transformation of the country. Indeed, the entire EU integration voyage for Croatia was in fact a process of state building.
The process of reforms in line with high international standards is an unprecedented experience that Croatia is ready to share with all countries which share or hope to share our own perspective of EU membership.
Croatia’s role in stabilizing the region of South-Eastern Europe, through the transfer of EU reform know-how will be one of the country’s main added values within EU institutions. The European Union promotes the peaceful process of stabilization and state building for the entire region of South-Eastern Europe. By assuming a crucial role in stabilizing South-Eastern Europe, Croatia will participate in an important bilateral venture, performing both a regional and a European task. This position makes the region an added value for Croatia in the EU and vice versa. Consequently, this know-how from European reforms is now suitable for institution building in any country, holding particular benefits for post-conflict societies. Therefore, this know-how could prove to be a valuable tool for institution building in the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. By developing partnerships with those countries aimed at transfer of EU know-how, Croatia can make a significant contribution to EU Foreign and Security Policy.
Having this goal in mind, the Croatian Government decided to title the forthcoming 2012 Croatia Summit “EU Experience and the State Building”. Leaders and think-tanks from across Europe and beyond will discuss the potential benefits of EU reforms’ know-how for peace-building and institution building in the countries of South-eastern Europe and South Mediterranean.
With this experience of state building and institution transformation, we are now prepared to look not only at our own situation, but also to have a broader European perspective. Through the process of EU accession we were guided by common EU values – freedom, solidarity, justice and the rule of law, tolerance, equal opportunities for success and happiness, to name just a few. This set of values induces an on-going progress, constantly pushing the institutional development forward, both in new and old EU member states. In the face of current challenges in Europe, it is more important than ever to safeguard these values and Croatia is dedicated to fulfilling and strengthening them.