Kolinda Grabar Kitarović.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Ured predsjednice/ ua

Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in Budva on Saturday she would personally advocate the ratification of Montenegro's protocol on association with NATO in the Croatian parliament as soon as possible.

"I am confident the Croatian Parliament will ratify the protocol as soon as possible, and I will personally advocate that," Grabar-Kitarovic said.

She underscored that in her opinion the issue of Prevlaka should not be an obstacle for Croatia to ratify the protocol.

"We agreed to proceed with this process. A temporary regime has been functioning since 2003, it is time for us to resolve this issue," Grabar-Kitarovic told the press in Budva.

According to her, Montenegro's membership of NATO and the EU was very important to Croatia as membership would strengthen the borders, saying that the membership invitation to Montenegro was an exceptional signal and a message to everyone.

Congratulating Montenegro on getting invited to join NATO, Grabar-Kitarovic said that the country now must think of an accession strategy.

Grabar-Kitarovic, together with Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, on Saturday took part in a panel debate of the To Be Secure (2BS) Forum.

Asked if Croatia was blocking Serbia's Euro-Atlantic integration process, Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia was not blocking anyone, including Serbia.

"Croatia is not blocking Serbia, but is asking Serbia to respect international standards regarding minority rights, including the rights of the Croatian minority," Grabar-Kitarovic said.

Slovenian President Pahor said that NATO member countries have a responsibility in the region to cooperate more, adding that they must do everything to prevent security problems in Western.

"We respect Serbia's decision not to apply for membership of NATO with which it cooperates, but we also respect Montenegro's decision to apply. It is important that Bosnia and Herzegovina applies for NATO membership and its application would mean a better security in the region," Pahor said.

He announced Slovenia would ratify the protocol on Montenegro's admission into NATO in June.

"It is important that all 28 EU members do that as soon as possible, as the security situation is changing and deteriorating," Pahor warned, pointing to problems in Ukraine, the Middle East, northern Africa.

Montenegrin President Vujanovic said it was important that his country joined NATO as soon as possible in order to prove that reforms are accepted, respected and valued, expressing confidence all member state would soon ratify the accession protocol.

"This is a sensitive period with many global challenges, but also a period in which the enlargement policy proves to be an adequate response to those global challenges," Vujanovic said.

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