Germany hails Croatia as example for strife-hit Balkans

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Germany's foreign minister on Wednesday hailed Croatia's path into the European Union as an example for Balkan countries amid fresh tensions between EU hopefuls Serbia and Kosovo.

Guido Westerwelle said after talks in Dubrovnik with his Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandrokovic that Germany hoped all the countries of the former Yugoslavia would join the EU but that there would be no "shortcuts".

"Anyone can see with the example of Croatia: those who make an effort and live by European values, from the rule of law to economic discipline, will be welcomed into the European Union with open arms," he said.

"But it has to happen in that order. Each country must first fulfil its obligations. Croatia did not take shortcuts but rather, successfully achieved this historic goal by its own efforts, with hard work and great discipline and also with setbacks."

Asked what he would advise Serbia, Jandrokovic said Belgrade must "work on reforms that change society as well as the state."

"It must speak and act based on European values. That is what Croatia did," he said. "It was not always easy. We were at times very irritated with the European side. We will of course help our neighbours," he said.

"It is in our interest and the interest of the European Union for them to become EU members."

After wrapping up accession talks in June, Croatia is on course to become the EU's 28th member in mid-2013.

Both Serbia and Kosovo aim to join the bloc but violent clashes last month over a customs row led EU leaders to warn that the conflict must be put to rest before either side could progress toward accession.

The two sides started EU-brokered talks in March aimed at cooling friction and ending the day-to-day headaches faced by ordinary people after Belgrade's refusal to recognise Kosovo's unilateral breakaway in 2008.

The negotiations stalled amid the latest tensions but are due to resume in mid-September.

Westerwelle is to visit Kosovo Thursday at the end of a three-day Balkans tour for talks with prime minister Hashim Thaci and General Erhard Buehler, the German commander of the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force.

© 2011 AFP

3 Comments To This Article

  • Alexander posted:

    on 11th August 2011, 00:55:26 - Reply

    One must note that the Croatians expelled the majority of the Serbian population in the single largest ethnic cleansing act of all the wars in the Balkans with over 300,000 being displaced in a day . And has made no effort in trying to help refugees back into the homes they lived in for centuries and if anything has made it virtually impossible for them to return. And this was on top of the 700,000 Serbs butchered under the quisling Nazi Croats of WW2 which just highlights Europes double standards applied when it comes to Serbs and everyone else in the Balkans.

  • P posted:

    on 10th August 2011, 23:31:34 - Reply

    Yes, Croatia lives according to EU value by glorifying those who committed horrendous crimes against the Serbs in Croatia throughout entire 20Th century. Knowing that Germany helped them in their adventure, what would we expect this man to say.
  • Steve Stojanovic posted:

    on 10th August 2011, 21:57:57 - Reply

    Germany and Croatia old NAZI allies at it again. Did u forget that Croatia killed 1 million Serbs in WWII? Then they ethnically cleansed 500,000 Serbs from Krajina. Is that what good neighbours do Germany? Actually that's what Germans do too!!!