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Ireland to help countries of the western Balkans achieve their EU perspective

DUBROVNIK, 7 July 2012.  The Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton T.D. , today participated in and addressed the "Croatia Summit".  The Summit, which takes place annually, focuses on regional relationships and the integration of the Balkan region into the wider European institutional framework.  Croatia will become the 28th member State of the EU in July 2013.

Minister Creighton, who is currently visiting the Western Balkans, spoke in the context of Ireland's forthcoming EU Presidency and the Irish Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Addressing the theme of this year's Summit "State Building and the European Experience", Minister Creighton described how membership of the EU has been a positive driving force for social and political change in Ireland as one of the first three “accession” states of the European project. 

"The European project has created a level of cooperation between countries that is without parallel. This cooperation has allowed the EU to become the most successful force for democratisation and peace in the world today.

This cooperation has played an important role in securing peace on our own island, after centuries of conflict. Working together with other countries in the European arena allowed both Ireland and the UK to reach a new, more mature relationship with each other, one not dominated by the past. I would hope this is something the countries of the Western Balkans can also achieve."

The Minister congratulated Croatia for completing its path to EU membership:

"Croatia’s achievement is the latest proof of how strong and successful the transformative power of the enlargement policy can be.  In Ireland we see EU enlargement not as a challenge but as an opportunity. Enlargement is a win-win initiative, both for the candidates and for existing members of the Union.

As we move into our next EU Presidency, we are facing up to the challenge of a broader as well as a deeper Union; it will be quite a different experience from anything we have been through before.  I look forward to seeing all the countries of the Western Balkans achieve the European perspective that has been promised to them. I trust that Ireland’s Presidency the Union next year will go some way to assisting them in that goal."

While in Dubrovnik, Minister Creighton held bilateral talks with the Croatian Foreign Minister, Vesna Pusić, and Deputy Foreign Minister, Joško Klisović.  She also met with other key regional leaders including, the Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha; the Foreign Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Poposki; and the Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj.

Minister Creighton will travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina tomorrow (Sunday, 8 July) where she will visit Mostar and Sarajevo.  In Mostar, Minister Creighton will be given a briefing on the work of the OSCE Mission and see at first hand the important role that the international community continues to play in support of the process of reconciliation and political and economic reform in the region.