Croatia’s first EU-ASEAN meeting

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic 23 July in Brussels attended a meeting of the General Affairs Council, which decided that Lithuania should enter the Eurozone on 1 January 2015, discussed the priorities of the Italian EU Council presidency, preparations for the fall session, and ways to more efficiently monitor implementation of the European Council’s conclusions. Pusic also attended a meeting of a group of countries that support the extension of the mandate for the EU-led peacekeeping operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia supports an extension of Althea because it is an important element that contributes to the stability of that country, Pusic said, adding that it would be counterproductive not to extend the executive mandate of Althea at a time of elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at a time when the EU is changing its approach to the country. For the first time as a full-fledged EU member, Croatia attended a joint ministerial EU-ASEAN meeting, which proves that geographically distant areas have the same fundamental beliefs that conflicts are more easily resolved through regional cooperation, Pusic said. The meeting was an opportunity for Croatia to communicate directly with colleagues from countries we don’t get the chance to meet that often, but which are very interesting to Croatia and other EU member states, the minister said. Croatia reported on the changes that had occurred in the past two years in regards to the Southern Neighbourhood and the Eastern Partnership. The Southern Neighbourhood was a place of careful optimism two years ago, while today it has transformed into something completely different, Pusic said, an unexpected and unannounced war in Europe. She underlined the fact that in the last two years there had been no conflicts in the EU or in the countries with a strong European perspective. Given that these are our neighbours, Pusic said that their clear European prospect had contributed to the fact that in the past two years the countries in the region had worked a lot more on cooperation and stabilization of relations, as well as trying to overcome economic difficulties. The EU and ASEAN ministers harshly condemned the shooting down of Malaysian plane and are in agreement that investigation should be launched and those responsible brought to justice.

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