The ghosts of the past are haunting southeast Europe again and the only remedy is EU and NATO membership, said Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic, speaking at the Mostar Medical Faculty on Monday.
Isolation from Europe is not an option, and our security is determined by, above all, our surrounding, she said.
“The most important thing is the stabilization of southeastern Europe which is facing many challenges,” Grabar Kitarovic said.
She welcomed the continuous engagement of NATO as it guarantees its members long-term stability.
“That’s Croatia’s key national interest. The ghosts of the past are being revived in southeastern Europe. I don’t expect all countries to agree and that keeps us locked in the past,” she said.
The region is exposed to various political influences and that Croatia is advocating a „complete political emancipation.”
“We are witnessing numerous pressures aimed at distancing this area from the EU path. We respect each country’s decisions in choosing their partner independently but if they choose the EU, they will have us as partners,” she said.
Most important for progress are the rule of law, fight against corruption and economy and bilateral disputes must be solved before joining the EU, she said.
According to Grabar kitarovic, "the union’s Enlargement Strategy shows that the chances for enlargement are realistic."
“We are happy about the recommendation for negotiations to be launched with Macedonia and Albania. The recommendation for Bosnia and Herzegovina is to urgently change the Election Law,” she said.
The Croatian President also spoke about the ongoing migrant crisis in the region.
“More than 600 thousand of them (migrants) passed through Croatia. We believe the only way (to tackle the migrant crisis) is a joint approach based on cooperation,” she said.
“It is crucial for the so-called Western-Balkan route to remain closed,” she said, adding that Croatia will provide support to Bosnia in tackling the issue due to the long border the two countries share.