Croatia PM Downplays Germany’s EU Concerns

In Berlin, Croatia’s Prime Minister described the recent controversy over Germany’s position on his country’s EU bid as a “storm in a teacup.”Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Thursday said concerns over recent negative statements by a German politician about Croatia’s readiness to enter the European Union were “a storm in a teacup”.

“We believe that Croatia has done its part of the job, reducing the number of conditions it has to meet from 50 to only 10. After this year, that number will be further reduced,” he said.

“What has been happening in the last few weeks is a storm in a teacup,” Milanovic added, after a meeting with the Social Democrat candidate for the post of German Chancellor in the 2013 elections, Peer Steinbrueck.

Milanovic was responding to recent statements by the speaker of the German parliament, Norbert Lammert, who said that Croatia was not ready to join the EU. The country is scheduled to join the bloc in July 2013.

“I believe in Croatia and in what we have done,” Milanovic said at the beginning of his two-day visit to the German capital. According to him, by the end of the year, 21 of the 27 EU countries will have ratified Croatia’s accession treaty with the EU.

Steinbrueck said that there was “nothing new” in the position of the German Social Democrats, SPD, regarding Croatia’s EU membership bid.

“The German Social Democrats welcome Croatia’s admission to the EU as scheduled,” he said, adding that the SPD believed that nothing will stand in the path of Croatia’s membership once it has fulfilled its remaining tasks.

“You know that the European Commission requests the fulfillment of a few more tasks, and we expect them to be fulfilled.

“As for the SPD, when all those tasks, recommendations and obligations are met, there will be no obstacles on Croatia’s road. You are welcome,” the German politician said.

Steinbrueck said he was surprised by Lammert’s statement. Milanovic is scheduled to meet the speaker of the German parliament on Friday.

Milanovic was also expected to meet briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a dinner on Thursday, held to mark the 60th anniversary of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations.

Some 250 guests were expected at the dinner, including several heads of state or government. The Committee was established in 1952 to represent German business interests in Eastern Europe, covering over 20 countries. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Committee now promotes reforms in the transition countries and their integration into European structures.

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