The expansion of the European Union to the southeastern Europe must remain a priority on EU’s agenda even after the new institutional configuration of the Union is set, in the process of forming the new European Commission, and in the drafting of the agenda for the next years, Foreign Affairs Minister Titus Corlatean said, quoted by Agerpres. The main theme of this year’s conference, the ninth edition of the Croatia Forum international conference on July 11-12, was the European integration of the Western Balkan states, a press release of the Foreign Affairs Ministry informed. High officials from Europe, foreign ministers of EU countries and of the expansion target countries, and guests from China, Japan, the United States and New Zealand attended the conference. The event organized by the Croatian Government was structured on three sections, dealing with topics such as ‘Western Balkans’ European Integration: Similarities and Differences’; ‘The Future of the EU Expansion Policy’; and ‘Current Challenges to European Values.’Within this context, the head of Romania’s diplomacy underlined the country’s support for the EU expansion, as a policy that brought undisputable benefits for the member states and for the Union as a whole, and for the new candidate countries. He also mentioned Romania’s active support for the continuation of the expansion process with European states that have the wish and capacity of meeting the conditions, principles and values on which the European project is built, stressed that Romania is an example of success of the expansion policy, also within the context of last years’ economic performances. Concerning this matter, the minister pointed out that Romania’s macroeconomic indicators illustrate a sustainable economic growth, and the fact that the European criteria of financial disciplines are met. He maintained the need for consolidation of the European integration process, including by the completion of the Schengen Area expansion: ‘Within the context of the advance of Europhobic and Eurosceptic tendencies in Europe, we need to promote on the political level a positive, consistent and constructive message on the role of the expansion process and of its benefits’. He also stressed the need for an enhanced support of the Union to the European perspective of its eastern partners, such as the Republic of Moldova, which proved a constant commitment and get convincing results on the reform path. ‘The Republic of Moldova has entered a new state of its relations with the European Union through the recent signing of the Association Agreement and of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, documents with community acquis representing 75 percent of their content,’ he added.The minister also mentioned the projects of the June 2013 – June 2014 Romanian Presidency term of the South South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), which’s main purpose was the synchronization of the cooperation initiatives within the process with the efforts of the Southeastern Europe states for meeting the standards and objectives of European and Euro-Atlantic integration. He presented within the context the activities organized by the Romanian Presidency of the SEECP, with focus on the expansion of the cooperation and the exchange of experience with the countries in the region, in the fields of anti-corruption fight, judiciary system reform, and home affairs cooperation. Corlatean also pointed out that under the Romanian Presidency, the SEECP had a significant contribution to the advance of the expansion agenda, by developing regional cooperation and consolidating SEECP’s inclusive character, and by creating a framework allowing the participation of officials in Pristina to the organization’s activities.Bilateral meetings…Also on Saturday, at the Croatia Forum international conference in Dubrovnik, Corlatean met US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. With this occasion, they discussed current topics on the agenda of the US-Romania Strategic Partnership, with focus on the diversification of bilateral cooperation on the political, military, and regional security levels, including the evolutions in the Western Balkans within the context of Romania’s presidency of SEECP, and in the extended Black Sea Basin; also, the preparation of the next NATO Summit.The two officials voiced their joint commitment to further support to the authorities of the Republic of Moldova for reaching the strategic objective of European integration. The Romanian minister underlined that the gas and electricity interconnection projects between Romania and the Republic of Moldova are vital for guaranteeing the energy security of the latter. Also on table were the latest evolutions in Ukraine and the latest diplomatic efforts – including ones at European level – to calm down the situation. Corlatean also met the Foreign Minister of New Zealand Murray Stuart McCully. They evoked the cooperation between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their bilateral meeting on the sides of the November 11-12, 2014 Asia -Europe Meeting (ASEM) in New Delhi. They agreed to organize a bilateral visit at ministerial level in the coming period. The head of the Romanian diplomacy also talked with Fu Ying, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament of China and Takao Makino, Deputy Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the Foreign Ministry of Japan.