Croatia has done a lot to help unblock the process of EU membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and hopes that the outstanding issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia will be resolved as soon as possible so that Albania and North Macedonia can get a date for the opening of talks, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday.
The Croatian prime minister is attending the summit of the South-East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP), the regional initiative launched 25 years ago, in the Turkish city of Antalya.
This year’s summit is being held under Turkey’s chairmanship, while Greece will hold the chairmanship in 2021/2022.
Plenkovic said that Croatia is one of the countries that support the EU enlargement process, adding that during last year’s summit in Zagreb, held online because of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia had done a lot to help unblock the process of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.
The summit adopted a document on the prospects of development of South-East Europe until 2030 in the context of global and European challenges.
“The document calls for improving cooperation, both bilateral and regional, and for gradual support to those countries that have an ambition to join the European Union,” Plenkovic said.
He said that cooperation in infrastructure projects, economic cooperation, and trade was crucial, warning of the problem of negative demographic trends faced by the entire region.
“It is also important to try and connect basic European policies, notably those concerning recovery, resilience, green transition, and digital transformation, as well as key lines of action to help the countries of South-East Europe reach the standards and join the organisations they are still not members of,” he added.
In his speech, Plenkovic said that Croatia had demonstrated solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by donating vaccines to five SEECP countries. “We will continue to do so in the future because we think that cooperation and solidarity are key to protecting all our citizens against the pandemic.”
Speaking of the closing declaration, he said that the document raised all issues relating to cooperation without going into internal affairs of any of the SEECP countries.