Croatia assumed the one-year rotating presidency over the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Sofia on Wednesday during a summit-meeting of this regional initiative.
Presenting Croatia's priorities during its chairmanship over this forum, launched 20 years ago on Bulgaria's initiative, Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac pointed out five basic principles: solidarity, support to EU membership aspirants, connecting south-eastern Europe, notably in the transport and communications sectors, strengthening political dialogue, primarily through parliamentary cooperation, and energy synergy.
Being guided by those principles, Croatia will focus on three priority areas: science and education, energy and response to crisis situations with the nontraditional role of armed forces in humanitarian and crisis situations, the Croatian minister said.
A specific feature of SEECP is that it is an original form of co-operation among the countries in the region launched on their own initiative, and not on the initiative of some other international organisation or countries.
The objectives of the co-operation within SEECP include the strengthening of security and the political situation, intensification of economic relations and co-operation in the areas of human resources, democracy and justice. It is the intention of the SEECP to enable its members to approach European and Euro-Atlantic structures through the strengthening of good neighbourly relations and transformation of the region into an area of peace and stability.
The founding members are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia (joined as Serbia and Montenegro) and Turkey. They signed a declaration on good neighbourly relations and stability and security in Sofia in 1996.
Croatia joined the initiative as a full member in 2004 and chaired it in 2006/2007.
The SEECP was subsequently joined also by Moldova, Montenegro, Slovenia and Kosovo.