Croatia and Slovakia are among the few European Union countries advocating further EU enlargement, enlargement is important for stabilisation of political systems and encourages changes and reform implementation, the Croatian and Slovakian foreign ministers told a news conference in Bratislava on Friday.
"Unfortunately, we are among the few European Union countries advocating enlargement. We believe that enlargement to southeastern countries is in correlation with the stabilisation of political systems. It is therefore important that we work together on that front," said Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac.
He announced that Croatia and Slovakia, which is scheduled to take over the Presidency of the European Union on July 1, would cooperate in that regard. Slovakia has said that enlargement will be one of the priorities of its EU presidency.
We agreed that the enlargement policy is very important because it motivates countries to change, implement reforms and meet European standards. It is not very popular in European capitals at the moment, but Croatia and Slovakia support enlargement. It will be one of the priorities of Slovakia's EU presidency, Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said.
Kovac underscored it was necessary for aspirant countries to meet the criteria so that the enlargement process could be credible and a powerful instrument in the transformation of societies.
"Croatia is confident that neighbouring countries will make progress towards EU membership, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia," Kovac said. Lajcak added he was confident Croatia would support Serbia and other countries in the region on their EU path.
Croatia has not greenlighted the opening of Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) in Serbia's EU entry talks because it strongly opposes Serbia's law on the universal jurisdiction for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Croatia also demands Serbia's full cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the implementation of a law on the representation of minorities in the parliament.
Lajcak and Kovac also discussed other priorities of Slovakia's EU presidency, the migration crisis, and the Western Balkans. Our positions on all those topics are very close, Lajcak said.
Kovac underscored Croatia and Slovakia are two friendly countries, adding that there is room for stepping up their cooperation both in Central and Southeast Europe.
The two countries recorded a 25% growth in economic cooperation last year when nearly half a million Slovakian tourists visited Croatia.
Both countries want to provide the best possible conditions for ethnic minorities, it was said.