06 November 2008 ZagrebÂ – Croatiaâ€™s Prime Minister Ivo Sanader welcomed the EU’s decision to name the target date for Croatia’s completion of accession talks as its “international affirmation.”
“That is that path, from first free elections, over referendum on independence, defence of the country and victory in the fatherland war, reconstruction and, finally, to international affirmation of Croatia,” he said, referring to the period since his country split from former Yugoslavia in 1991.
His remarks came after the European Commission, the EU’s executive announced in Brussels that Croatia should be able to finish all talks on joining the bloc by the end ofÂ 2009, paving the way for it to enter the bloc as early as 2011.
Croatia was also invited to join NATO at the summit in Bucharest seven months ago.
While trailing Slovenia, which in 2004 became the first former Yugoslav republic to join EU and NATO, Croatia is far ahead of the other countries stemming from the failed federation – Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the yet not fully-fledged Kosovo.