A seminar on the role of the EU in preventing conflicts in SEE...

A seminar on the role of the European Union in preventing conflicts in South-eastern Europe, organised under the auspices of the Greek presidency over the EU was held in Athens on 5 May 2003. The seminar was attended by representatives of SEE states, representatives of international community engaged in building peace in SEE, as well as by representatives of the European Commission.

In his speech, Dr Ivan Šimonović, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Croatia, particularly emphasised the contribution of the process of joining the EU to peace and stability in the region. He pointed out that the current situation is different from the early stages of the conflict in former Yugoslavia when the EU neither had a vision, nor a unique position as to its enlargement.

Further on, Dr Šimonović emphasised that the Salonika summit should be an occasion to make a clear definition of the future of the region in Europe, the conditions for joining the EU, and of a guarantee for individual approach to states who meet conditions. He also added that pre-accession funds should be used for this purpose.

Some of participants of the seminar pointed out the Republic of Croatia as a serious candidate for the accession to the European Union in the first round of the enlargement after 2004.

On the margin of the seminar, the Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister met with high official of the European Commission, Mr. Reinhard Priebe, and high official of the Council of the EU, Mr. Stefan Lehne. Their talks included the preparation of issues for giving opinion on the Croatian application for membership in the European Union.

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