EU accession prospects of the Western Balkans: extracts from - address by Josip LEKO, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament - exchange of views with Josko KLISOVIC, Croatian Deputy Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Štefan FÜLE, EC

Type: News   Reference: 94212   Duration: 00:04:10  Lieu: Strasbourg, France - European Parliament
End production: 01/07/2013   First transmission: 01/07/2013
As Croatia became today the European Union's 28th member, the second ex-Yugoslav republic to join the bloc after Slovenia, EP Committee on Foreign Affairs examined today the prospects of the remaining countries of the Western Balkans to join the EU. The 6 countries (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro) with a joint population of almost 19 million, are unlikely to join the bloc before the end this decade, as the fallout from Yugoslavia's violent collapse in the 1990s as well as corruption and sluggish economic growth continue to slow their progress. BACKGROUND : Whether Bosnia has yet to apply for EU membership, Albania applied for EU candidate status in April 2009 but has twice been turned down, though it was granted just as Bosnia visa-free travel to countries in the EU's so-called Schengen zone in 2010. Brussels has cited shortcomings in the functioning of democratic institutions such as the parliament and judiciary. As for Kosovo, Europe's youngest country with a population of 1.8 million, only 22 of the EU's 27 members have recognized it. Brussels has recommended opening talks for a stability and association agreement, the first step towards membership. Macedonia is a candidate for membership of both NATO and the EU but progress has been hostage to a long-running dispute with its southern neighbor Greece. Athens objects to its use of the name "Macedonia", saying it implies territorial ambitions towards Greece's northern province of the same name. Coming to Montenegro, the EU granted the Adriatic country of 700,000 people candidate status in 2010 and opened accession talks last year. Montenegro closed the second negotiating chapter in April but Brussels has stressed Podgorica must do more to clamp down on organized crime and corruption. Finally, Serbia represents the biggest market in the Western Balkans with a population of 7.3 million. It is due to start EU membership talks by January, as it unblocked its EU integration in April, when its socialist-nationalist government signed an EU-brokered deal with Kosovo, agreeing to cede the control over northern Kosovo that it had retained even after its former province declared independence in 2008.

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00:00:00 EXTERIOR SHOT of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France 00:00:05
00:00:05 AMBIENCE SHOT, arrival of the speakers in the Committee on Foreign Affairs : 3 shots. 00:00:25
00:00:30 SOUNDBITE (German) Elmar BROK, Chair, Committee on Foreign Affairs. English translation : "It is an especial pleasure for me, to be bale to welcome the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Mister Josip LEKO, the representative of democratic Croatia. Today, as I told him privately before, the congratulations from the European Parliament go not only to you but also to us, because it's mutual benefit the Croatia is now a Member of the EU." (applause) 00:00:34
00:01:04 SOUNDBITE (Croatian) Josip LEKO, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament. English translation : "I'm totally convinced that this process of enlargement has his magic but it's not over. There's no single template for accession process but people if they're candidates can gain useful lessons from other processes. We can, I think, usefully contribute our experience to others to promote stability, maintaining stability in southern east Europe. We would like to continue to prove our aid to these countries who would like to integrate the European Union. We'd like to provide them political and technical help and support regional cooperation as well as good neighbouring relations. The great Croatian poet Tin Ujević : Croatia becomes itself richer by receiving but then by giving to others". 00:01:07
00:02:11 SOUNDBITE (Croatian) Josko KLISOVIC, Croatian Deputy Minister for Foreign and European Affairs English translation : "We learned that in the European Union that negotiations helped us to change society, change legislation, it's much easier than having to do it all on our own in fact and through out the process the European Commission has been a great friend to Croatia, the European Parliament has also shown itself to be an another great friend of Croatia, and I'd like to thank you for that. Finally the Members States also have been our friends, they've helped us and have given us sound advices." 00:00:40
00:02:51 SOUNDBITE (English) Štefan FÜLE, European Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. "Croatia success is also a great example for the rest of the region, it is a proof of the credibility of the enlargement policy; when a candidate country delivers on the criteria and commitments, the European Union delivers on the European membership prospective. I'm convinced that the European union integration will not be complete until the countries of the region are also part of the European Union and all the people of the Western Balkans can enjoy all the benefits of a stronger and more united continent." 00:00:36
00:03:27 SOUNDBITE (French) Hyseni KALOSHI, Representative from Kosovo. English translation : "We consider Croatian accession as a victory not only for neighbour Croatia but also for all the Balkans neighbours. I said neighbours : of course, we, as Kosovo, are not direct neighbours to Croatia, but Croatia is to Kosovo far more than a simple neighbours. We shared the same past, the same pains, the same dreams and I hope we will share the same future. An Albanese proverbial says : a good neighbour is the door to paradise." 00:00:36
00:04:03 CUTAWAYS : 4 shots. 00:00:07
00:04:10 END. 00:00:00
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