The results of the British referendum represents a blow to the unity of the European Union, but it also shows that British citizens are dissatisfied with the way the bloc functions, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said in Zagreb on Friday, adding that Britain's leaving the EU would not have serious economic or political consequences for Croatia.
Kovac told N1 television that now the EU must think through how to proceed, adding that he personally advocated a public debate among the EU member states. We need to see how to organise the Union more efficiently, he added.
"We need to talk about the powers Brussels has," Kovac said adding that the bloc must be brought close to citizens and peoples of Europe.
"It seems that European institutions are too distant from an ordinary person," he added.
Kovac says Brexit comes at a very "awkward moment when all of us are still exposed to the consequences of the migrant and debt crises."
He underscored that the results of Britain's referendum should not have significant economic and political consequences for Croatia.
"Croatia is not that tied to Britain economically. The two countries' trade amounts to one tenth of the trade Croatia has with Slovenia, Germany or Italy. There are no bigger economic consequences," the minister claims.
Commenting on political consequences, Kovac recalls that the process of Britain's leaving the bloc would last about two years and that Croatia will manage to adjust in that period.
Speaking about the possible impact of Brexit on the EU enlargement process, Kovac said Croatia's position on the issue is very clear. The country will continue to advocate the enlargement process, which includes the respect of the accession criteria, he said, adding however that it was realistic to expect that the process would slow down.
"We want to spread stability in Southeast Europe and we will advocate that the process of Britain's leaving the EU does not affect the enlargement process too much. But we have to be realistic. I'm afraid (...) that the process will slow down a little," Kovac said.
Kovac believes it is necessary to talk about powers European institutions have and powers the member states have. He said Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic will attend a European Council session next week, adding however that he did not expect major moves and that first moves would have to be made by British Prime Minister David Cameron, namely that he would have to activate article of the Agreement of the European Union that refers to a member state leaving the bloc.
Great Britain has voted to leave the European Union, with the Leave campaign securing around 52 per cent of the vote, according to the British media which cited results of Thursday's landmark referendum.
The results showed a 52/48 percent split for leaving.
This is the first time in history that a member state is leaving the bloc.