Minister Picula received the delegation of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Irish Parliament...

On 16 July 2003, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Tonino Picula, received the delegation of the Foreign Policy Committee of the Irish Parliament, headed by its Chairman, Michael Woods.

Ireland will take over the presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2004, that is in the period in which the European Union should, as announced, prepare the opinion about the Croatian application for membership of the EU.

The members of the delegation expressed their clear and open support to Croatia's efforts to join the EU, offering help based on Ireland's own experience. They also reported to which questions Ireland dedicated special attention in overcoming the economic difficulties, and said it was necessary to preserve the European model of entrepreneurship with social balance, noting that Croatia, with its long tradition and determination to create its own future can contribute to the preservation of the European values.

Expressing gratitude for Ireland's support for the Republic of Croatia concerning membership of the EU, Minister Picula said that the year 2003 was exceptional in that this is the first time "we feel positive pressure" from Brussels, unlike in the previous years. He mentioned the readiness of the Republic of Croatia to help the European Union by engaging in the consolidation of our neighbourhood, sending a message to the countries in the region. As an example of the active role of Croatia, Minister Picula mentioned the open invitation to all refugees to return as well as the determination of the Government of the Republic of Croatia to help them rebuild their destroyed homes.

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