Intervention de M. Stjepan Mesic,
Président de la République de Croatie, lors de la Séance inaugurale

Mr. President of the European Union,

Distinguished Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers,

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

I take particular pleasure in welcoming you at the beginning of a meeting which will enter diplomatic annals as the Zagreb Summit and which, l am certain, thanks to our concerted efforts will be remembered as a new step forward in the process od approach of Southeast Europe to the European Union and in the normalization of conditions in this part of the world.

The Republic of Croatia is fully aware that complete and lasting peace and security are not possible along its frontiers until peace and security prevail in all the countries in its environment. We sincerely want this region - experienced, unfortunately, as a region of distrust and destruction - to become one of the most stable parts of Europe. Wa are prepared to provide our maximum contribution to such stabilization. We are also determined to make additional efforts in order to contribute to the creation of a secure, progressive and integral Europe though partnership relations with our neighbours and with the international community.

Bearing this in mind we have welcomed, and I have done it first on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, the start of the process of change in the neighbouring Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia. The policy pursued by the regime of Slobodan Milosevic and imposed by that aggressive regime by force of arms - first on Slovenia, then on Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and, finally, Kosovo - caused a series of wars which left a trail of death and destruction.

These wars have left the imprint of indelible consequences on at least one generation, devastated the economies of these countries, and forced millions of people - in Europe at the close of the twentieth century - to abandon their homes and live in exile.

In removing the consequences of the war distinguished by genocide and ethnic cleansing, the determination of responsibility at all levels plays a truly incalculable role. Within this context the role of the International Tribunal in The Hague is imperative, and so is the provision of conditions for the safe and dignified return of all refugees and displaced persons. Let me be quite clear about it: it would be illusory to discuss any normalization without full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, without the individual assignment of guilt which will prevent the creation of the myth about the collective guilt of any nation, and without the return of refugees and displaced persons.

The recent changes in Serbia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia hold out hope for the final stabilization of the region. In this regard, I am certain that we - and not only we in Croatia - expect the new government in Belgrade to appropriately and clearly disown Milosevic’s policy. Some signals which we have received point to optimism. Let us hope that this optimism is justified and founded. We wish the new government in the FRY much strength and patience in the implementation of the required reforms.

This year will end with a number of very significant changes in the political dynamism in the region. They are primarily the result of the democratic maturity of the citizens, but also of the systematic support of the international community.

The elections and the changes in Croatia, the elections in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the local elections in Kosovo and the recent elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina confirm that we are entering the new century with new visions, and that the time ahead is a time of hope and development of better living conditions for every citizen. This is not only a possibility which lies ahead, but first and foremost our obligation.

Cooperation between neighbouring states is natural, logical and indeed beneficial to all. This is why Croatia sincerely accepts regional cooperation and is prepared for continuous involvement in the creation of conditions for the establishment of quality relations between states sharing the same goals. However, on this occasion as well I must clearly state that Croatia - while accepting regional cooperations as a need and an expression of its own interests - does not want to become a captive of the region and thereby remain enclosed within its borders. Regional cooperation must not be an end in itself, it must be just one of the steps on the hopefully not too long road to the European Union.

I have already referred to the international community. Within its framework the countries of the European Union have played a significant role in the years-long efforts focused on overcoming the aftermath of war - in all its aspects. It is within such a context that I also see the Zagreb Summit, which I have the honour to co-chair together with the President of the European Union and the President of the French Republic Mr. Jacques Chirac.

The choice of Zagreb as the venue of the Summit reflects the firm commitment of the Union to continued and enhanced efforts to be crowned by the admission of the countries included in the process of stabilization and association to the Union.

It also pays tribute to Croatia and its efforts en route to full democratization and European integration. We are aware of our responsibility and we accept it with confidence.

I would like to take advantage of this occasion in order to welcome the important and radical reforms initiated and implemented by the European Commission. I am convinced that this assessment is also shared by the high represntatives of the countries of the region present here today. I am certain that they will also agree with me in expressing my satisfaction with the new CARDS Program intended to offer financial support to the countries of the region. Let me just add that it is of vital importance to see that the approved funds reach as soon as possible those for whom they are intended and be put to use. Already the ancient Romans used to say "bis dat qui cito dat" : who gives quickly, gives twice.

In conclusion, what do we expect and what should we expect from the Zagreb Summit? I think that the Zagreb Summit is expected to lay out the clear-cut principles for the building of relations among the countries in the region, to affirm the criteria which every country must meet in order to qualify for the procedure of admission to the European Union, and to send a clear message to the citizens of these countries that they are welcome to the Union - at the rate which they are capable of achieving, that is, individually, or, as I am fond of saying, in a regatta and not in a convoy.

The Zagreb Summit will demonstrate that at the present moment we cannot do more - and may not do less.

Thank you.

Sources : le Ministère croate des Affaires étrangères, la Présidence de la République croate, la Présidence de la République française, le Ministère français des Affaires étrangères, la Présidence française de l’Union européenne.


  Présentation du Sommet  
  Déclaration finale  
  Intervention du président Stjepan Mesic  
  Intervention du président Jacques Chirac  
  Le Processus de Stabilisation et d’Association (PSA)  
  Aide de l’UE aux pays concernés par le PSA

Entretien du président Mesic avec Le Monde
  Entretien télévisé du président Chirac avec HRT  
  Le Monde  
  Le Figaro  
  La Croix  
  La Tribune  
  Les Echos  
  Le Nouvel Observateur  
  Agences de presse  
  France 2  
  France info  


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