A summit of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) in Sofia ended on Wednesday with the message that all countries in southeast Europe have to become members of the European Union.

The heads of 13 southeast European countries, including Croatia, confirmed in a joint declaration on the 20th anniversary of this cooperation forum, that the process of European integration of all of southeast Europe remains to be the Process's main priority to guarantee peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

We confirm the strategic option for European integration of the entire region as the main political instrument that will guarantee peace, stability and prosperity as noted in the Thessaloniki Agenda of 2003 that was adopted by EU heads of state and governments, says the declaration that was unanimously adopted.

We agree that the European path of all stakeholders remains the fundamental priority of the Process, reads the document.

The EU member states Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia confirmed in the declaration that they will be the "drivers" of full integration of southeast Europe into the EU while candidate countries and potential candidates confirmed their duty to commit to work in meeting all criteria for EU membership.

SEECP leaders underscored the importance of further cooperation in dealing with new challenges and threats to stability and security in southeast Europe, particularly the migrant crisis.

True regional cooperation and consolidation on the European path of the entire region are essential to face those unprecedented events, they said.

The summit marks the end of Bulgaria's one-year presidency of the SEECP which was assumed by Croatia on Wednesday.

The SEECP was established twenty years ago on Bulgaria's initiative with the adoption of a declaration on good neighbourly relations, stability, security and cooperation in the Balkans, which was signed in Sofia in 1996. 

The SEECP member countries are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Turkey.

Taking over the chairmanship of the SEECP on behalf of Croatia, Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said: "Through the SEECP and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) we need to set clear objectives for economic and social development that will lead to concrete projects."

"The world today is intertwined more than ever and any sort of isolation or separation is pointless. We always have to focus on solidarity and cooperation and find ways to highlight our common future," Kovac said.

Croatia has been an active member of the SEECP since 1997 and initially had the status of an observer country. It became a full member in October 2004.

Croatia in 2006-2007 already chaired the Process.

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