Updated: 14-May-2002 NATO Speeches

Meeting of the
15 Dec. 2000


by H.E. Tonino Picula,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia

Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my special pleasure to address this ministerial session of the EAPC. I still remember my first appearance before you, in May this year, when I signed the Framework Document on behalf of my Government.
Allow me to thank you. Esteemed Colleagues, for all help and advice you have been generously giving to Croatia since then. I would also like to express my gratitude to the NATO International and Military Staff as well as NATO and Partner Missions for the support given to Croatian diplomats in general.
The year 2000 has meant a new start for my country. Beside other changes, let me inform you that me Croatian Parliament has just recently changed the Constitution, transforming Croatia from a semi-presidential system of government to a parliamentary democracy. Apart from becoming a member of EAPC/PfP Family, this year Croatia has become a full member of the World Trade Organisation. The Council of Europe has decided to end its monitoring in Croatia and the UN has removed Croatia from its Omnibus Resolution on Human Rights. The OSCE Mission in Croatia has undergone a decrease in numbers and activities. 1 believe that there will be no reason whatsoever for another extension of its mandate beyond the year 2001. Furthermore, Croatia successfully organised the Zagreb Summit last month and started negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. Therefore, I am proud to say that Croatia, over a brief span, from an object of observation has become a stable and active factor in international relations.
In regard to the Partnership for Peace we have tried to move forward, aiming to familiarise ourselves with all its aspects. Let me brief you shortly on what we have done since joining the PfP. Croatia has submitted its Presentation Document and the draft of the Individual Partnership Program We have also joined the Planning and Review Process by completing and presenting the Survey of Overall PflP Interoperability. Since joining PfP Croatia has participated in some 60 PfP activities. At this point I would like to express my gratitude to the Governments of Hungary, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom for the financing of four very important seminars attended by several hundred Croatian officials. Let me also mention that Croatia and NATO experts have started retraining program for redundant military personnel to assist in their reintegration into civilian labour markets. The Liaison Office of Croatia to NATO has started functioning and the accreditation procedure for the 1 lead of Mission of Croatia to NATO is under way

Let me stress that the number and quality of the EAPC activities in the second half of the year 2000 is quite impressive. Croatia also welcomes and endorses the EAPC Action Plan and the Report on the Enhanced and More Operational Partnership, which are going to be an excellent tool to deepen our mutual co-operation and speed up the interoperability with NATO of each and every Partner
Mr. Secretary General,
m your letter you have mentioned a specific topic: the regional implications of the developments in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia has welcomed me membership of FRY in all international organisations provided that the succession process of former Yugoslavia is folly respected by all countries arisen from the dissolution of former Yugoslavia. I have met Minister Svilanovic in Zagreb and my country has already taken concrete steps to enhance economic cooperation with FRY. We want to speed up the process of resolving of all open issues between two neighbouring countries Let me also remind of the fact that there is still a small UN observer Mission on the Croatian Prevlaka peninsula. For my Government Prevlaka has never been a territorial issue, but rather a matter requiring a comprehensive security arrangement. Unfortunately, FRY has so far consistently presented this issue as a territorial dispute. Let me kindly ask all of you to contribute to the speedy and satisfactory resolution of this issue. I believe that all of us are looking forward to a successful end of the UN Observer Mission on Prevlaka in the year 2001.
Although encouraged by me initial changes in FRY, Croatia is still concerned that Slobodan Milosevic, the man who caused and started four wars of aggression in the last decade stifl plays significant role in the political life of Serbia. Nevertheless, Croatia hopes that at the upcoming elections in Serbia democratic changes and true democratic forces will prevail, thus setting Serbia -and the region - irrevocably on a path to a new future.
Croatia welcomes and endorses the Progress Report on the Implementation of the Operational Capabilities Concept for NATO-led PfP Operations. Allow me to inform you that Croatia has just sent a new group of officers to serve in the UN observer mission to Sierra Leone-Further participation of Croatian peacekeepers in two other UN missions is currently being discussed. More importantly, it is the intention of my Government that Croatia starts participating in the NATO-led peacekeeping missions in the year 2001.
I can also assure you that we are going to continue our logistics support to SFOR and KFOR peace operations.
South Eastern Europe is unfortunatefy still exposed to many security risks. In this context a number of current peacekeeping and other missions speak for themselves. Other unresolved issues mentioned in the document of NATO SEEI imply the urgency to overcome all of these problems. Some open issues are common to all the SEE countries; others are a clear consequence of the four wars waged by Milosevic on the territory of former federal state-Let me mention just a few of these questions: succession of former Yugoslavia; borderlines among the now independent states are yet to be fillly delineated or demarcated: presence of large quantities of unregistered small arms and light weapons in private hands; drug smuggling, trafficking of people and illegal immigration towards Western Europe; inadequate border crossings; huge numbers of uncleared and even unmarked mine fields; large stockpiles of land- and antipersonnel mines;
organised crime and corruption; lack of trust among former adversaries; insufficient level of transparency of military budgets in some countries and unsatisfactory standards of the civilian, or democratic control of armed forces; need to develop smaller and modem armed forces; undeveloped

programs for employment of demobilised army officers and soldiers; signs of terrorism (particularly in Serbia); surplus of high ranking military officers not fully trained and equipped for the rank, etc.
Unfortunately the region cannot deal with the aforesaid problems by itself particularly when we take into account the lack of team work capabilities, planning skills and finances. Most of these issues have been addressed through SEEI, Stability Pact and other initiatives. Let me also emphasise a very positive example of the efforts of the Stability Pact - the opening of the "Regional Anns Control Verification and Implementation Centre - RACVIAC" in Croatia, financed by Germany. In order to further security, stability and co-operation in the region, Croatia has become a member of South Eastern Europe Defence Ministerial (SEDM), and an observer in the MPFSEE. Croatia has been active in the SEEGROUP and SEECAP At the beginning of next year Croatia will co-chair the Security Working Table of the Stability Pact and at the same time will start chairing the SEEGROUP. Croatia has also joined Hungary, Italy and Slovenia in the quadrilateral initiative in order to, inter alia, establish multinational force for peace support operations.
Mr. Chairman
Croatia is determined to move forward in the year 2001. You are aware that NATO membership is Croatia's strategic goal. I am confident that Croatia will multiply its efforts, and NATO is going to recognise Croatia as an aspirant country. We would like to join nine aspirant countries in order to take full advantage of the potentials the Membership Action Plan offers, and to share experiences with other participating countries. I strongly believe that before our next EAPC Ministerial meeting, NATO is going to invite Croatia to start participating in MAP.

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