A Huge Milestone For Croatia


    The United States congratulates the Republic of Croatia on its recent accession to membership in the European Union. It “is an occasion to honor Croatia and the many achievements of its citizens,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Eighteen years after the end of the Balkan civil war, Croatia is, after Slovenia, only the second of the seven countries that emerged from the break-up of Yugoslavia to join the European Union, or EU. Qualifying for membership was not easy, nor was it painless for this country of just over 4 million people.

    Croatia is largely dependent on the tourist industry, a difficult proposition in the midst of a global recession, and has an unemployment rate that fluctuates around 20 percent. Still, the country and the politicians from all parties made a commitment to harmonize Croatia’s standards to those of the EU, something that involved much hard work.

    Croatia reformed its judicial system to be more transparent and accountable; cracked down on corruption and organized crime; strengthened the protection of minorities and human rights; and resolved a border dispute with Slovenia. Croatia stopped subsidizing its shipbuilding industry, and changed its laws to allow foreign nationals to purchase Croatian property. And it extradited several citizens accused of war crimes to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

    It has not been easy, but in the long run, Croatia and its people will reap the benefits. Membership qualifies Croatia for EU financial assistance, including for infrastructure improvement; and restriction-free trade throughout the EU, already Croatia’s biggest trading partner.

    “On behalf of President [Barack] Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of the Republic of Croatia,” said Secretary of State John Kerry.

    “Croatia has worked diligently for over a decade and over many administrations towards the goal of European Union membership. I know it was not always an easy path. I commend Croatia’s perseverance and the courage of your leaders and citizens as Croatia has rebuilt its economy and government structures to meet European Union standards,” he said.

    “The United States looks forward to strengthening the ties between our peoples as we build together a future of peace and progress.”