Clinton Visits Future EU Member Croatia

Posted October 31st, 2012 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a five-nation Balkan tour, is in Croatia, where she will praise the country's expected accession to the European Union next year.

Clinton met with Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic Wednesday in the capital, Zagreb, for talks on Zagreb's future EU membership and its role as a NATO ally. She will also meet with President Ivo Josopovic and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic while in Croatia.

Secretary Clinton arrived in Zagreb from Pristina, where she reiterated Washington's support for an independent Kosovo, saying “the United States remains firm on Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

She was addressing the tensions that remain between the ethnic-Albanian Kosovo government and the Serbian government, which does not recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

“We oppose any discussion of territorial changes or reopening Kosovo's independent status. These matters are not up for discussion. The boundaries of an independent, sovereign Kosovo are clear and set.”

Clinton also said the United States wants to see the rule of law extended throughout Kosovo, which is plagued by corruption problems and the competing interests of ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians.

On Tuesday in Belgrade, Clinton had urged Serbian leaders to move forward on talks with Kosovo, stressing that such dialogue does not require recognition of the former province's independence.

European Union officials have also urged Belgrade to normalize relations with Kosovo.

From Zagreb, Clinton flies to the Albanian capital, Tirana, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Albanian independence.

Croatia is set to become a full EU member in July 2013, becoming the second of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia to join the EU after Slovenia, which became a member in 2004. All other countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia — Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia — are also seeking membership.