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Minister for European Affairs begins visit to Western Balkans

The Minister for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton T.D., will visit the Western Balkans from 5 -12 July in her capacity as representative of the Irish Chair of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and as part of the preparations for Ireland's EU Presidency in the first half of 2013. 

Developments in the Western Balkans will be a priority for the European Union throughout the Irish Presidency with the accession of Croatia to the EU on 1 July 2013, the opening of the accession negotiations with Montenegro, and bringing into effect the Stabalisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Minister Creighton will begin her visit in Montenegro on Thursday 5 July.  Montenegro is to open accession negotiations with the EU following a decision by the European Council at its last meeting on 29 June.  Minister Creighton will hold meetings in Podgorica with Foreign Minister Milan Roćen, and with State Secretary for European Affairs Aleksander Andrija.  She will also meet with the Head of the OSCE mission in Montenegro, Ambassador Sarunas Adomavicius.

On Friday 6 July, Minister Creighton will travel to Croatia where she will participate and address the “Croatia Summit” in Dubrovnik.  The Summit, which takes place annually, focuses on regional relationships and the integration of the region within the wider European institutional framework.  The theme of this Summit is “State Building and the European Experience”.  Minister Creighton will speak on 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. While in Dubrovnik, Minister Creighton will hold meetings with the Croatian Foreign Minister, Vesna Pusić, and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Joško Klisović. 

The Summit is also a valuable opportunity to meet with other leaders from the region and Minister Creighton is due to hold discussions with the Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha; the Foreign Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Poposki; and the Foreign Minister of Kosovo, Enver Hoxhaj.

On Sunday 8 July, Minister Creighton will travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she will visit Mostar and Sarajevo.  In Mostar, Minister Creighton will be given a briefing on the work of the OSCE Mission in Bosnia 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 country.  In Sarajevo, the Minister will hold meetings with the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bakir Izetbegović; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zlatko Lagumdžija; and the Minister for Finance, Nikola Špirić.  

The Minister will conclude her trip on Monday 9 July with a two day visit to Turkey.  Minister Creighton will meet with her Turkish counterpart, Minister for European Affairs Egemen Bağis, in Ankara, and will have a number of business focused meetings in Istanbul before her return to Ireland.