By H.E. Andrea Gustovic – Ercegovac, Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia in Romania
The date of 25 June 1991 when the Croatian Parliament adopted the Declaration on the Proclamation of the Sovereign and Independent Republic of Croatia is, one of the most important dates in Croatian history. The Declaration was adopted in the days when the threat of policy of aggression against Croatia was already looming. This was not only an expression of resistance to this policy, but it was also the unequivocal will of Croatian citizens declared at the referendum, expressing the wish to have their own sovereign and independent state of Croatia. Since then Croatia has taken great strides in the democratization and development of its society. Two decades after regaining its independence and sovereignty, Croatia is now close to another historic milestone. Last year Croatia signed the Treaty of Accession to the European Union. The treaty stipulates that Croatia will join the EU on 1 July 2013. EU entry referendum was organized in Croatia and 67% voted for Europe, which is a sign of trust but also a sign of readiness of our citizens to take on new responsibilities. The treaty has already been ratified by 8 EU member states and hopefully soon in Romania and the others. After 20 years, modern Croatia has returned to the political and cultural space to which it belongs. With Europe, Croatia is richer, and with Croatia, Europe, too, is richer.Croatia is aware of all problems the EU is faced with and knows that solutions can be found through joint decisions. The accession process in Croatia is not over yet, we will persevere in reforms and in the full implementation of European law. Croatia’s new government can and will continue with the reforms with new enthusiasm. ACroatia’s accession negotiations were much more complex than the previous ones, but reforms are worthwhile. Croatia has transformed itself, within a brief period, from a country receiving international assistance into a country that has been for a number of years responsibly participating in peace-keeping missions throughout the world, and as a member of NATO. Our international efforts will remain focused on cooperation in the service of peace and security. The relations between Croatia and Romania are broader every day, both bilateral and multilateral, with an upward trend. High level visits which continue for some time will develop cooperation on a bilateral level and within international community. A file with the name Common issues and similarities became thick: besides EU and NATO, there are notes on geography, common neighbours, region of SEE, Danube, energy routes, infrastructure connections, sea, tourism, minorities, history, political and economic transitions, sport etc. Good relations are also manifested in Croatian minority living and working harmoniously and productively in Romania for centuries. Croatian language was preserved throughout history and hopefully it will stay in the future as a part Romanian national heritage.Romania actively supported our way to EU/NATO. Both countries are a stabilizing factor in South-eastern Europe. We are willing to transfer all our knowledge gained through process of Euro Atlantic integration by sharing the experience with our neighbours. Our common interest is stability and progress in the region. Also the Danube Strategy as internal EU policy is offering many opportunities for cooperation.Bilateral economic trade turnover is respectable and stronger economic growth will assist these prospects. Croatian investment in Romania for the last 20 years is 8 mil. These figures are still relatively low, and I see it as one of my tasks here to promote as widely as possible the opportunities which exist. There is significant space for a larger exchange in the domain of tourism. Every year around 60 000 Romanian tourists visit Croatia and in time this number is expected to significantly increase. In closing we can say that Croatia’s membership in the EU would significantly contribute to the intensity of overall bilateral cooperation. Many priorities and tasks are ahead of us, but so are many opportunities and prospects.