Sunday, 26 June 2022

Croatian MEP Appointed Rapporteur on New EU Enlargement Strategy

ZAGREB, 26 June 2022 - The European Parliament has appointed Croatian MEP Tonino Picula rapporteur on the new EU enlargement strategy, his office said on Sunday.

His task will be to formulate a proposal for the new enlargement strategy, which would then need to be adopted by the European Parliament and sent to the European Council, the European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Picula said after his appointment that the proposal clearly emphasises the value of enlargement policy as a strategic investment in the security and prosperity of Europe, and that enlargement policy has already made a great contribution to restoring peace to areas previously affected by war.

He said that enlargement is the most effective EU foreign policy instrument and one of the Union's most successful policies.

It is also important for Croatia, because as long as we do not have other EU members on our borders, we will not be able to make full use of the benefits of our membership, Picula said.

He said that enlargement is particularly important today, in the context of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, in order to give Ukraine and Moldova a membership perspective and provide fresh impetus to enlargement policy.

The prosperity and security of the European Union depends on its ability to defend democracy both inside and outside its borders, as well as human rights and the multilateral order based on clear rules, the Croatian MEP said.

Speaking of membership aspirants, Picula said the EU member states need to start delivering on their commitments to the candidates that meet the set criteria, and to avoid using unresolved bilateral disputes for blackmail and blocking the accession process.

Picula recommends speeding up the integration of countries that demonstrate commitment to the necessary reforms for EU membership, setting more transparent and consistent benchmarks, improving the measuring of progress and ensuring ongoing political and technical support throughout the accession process.

As regards Croatia's neighbours, he requested that the achievements of Western Balkan countries be recognised by opening accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia and approving the liberalisation of the visa regime with Kosovo without delay.

He said that the EU should also help Bosnia and Herzegovina to get the status of membership candidate as soon as possible and to accelerate the accession process with Montenegro as the most advanced candidate.

For more, check out our politics section.

Friday, 11 February 2022

Croatian MEP: Russian Troops on Ukraine Border Not Local Issue But Global Threat

ZAGREB, 11 Feb 2022 - The buildup of Russian forces along the Russia-Ukraine border is not a local problem but a global security threat, Croatian member of the European Parliament, Tonino Picula, told the BBC on Thursday.

The war with the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine is entering its eighth year, and pro-Russian separatists, supported by Russia, carried out secession of the three eastern Ukrainian areas:  Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea, said Picula, a foreign policy coordinator of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

According to a statement issued by Picula's office, the MEP said that Ukrainians deserved to be commended for their rational attitude.

It can seem paradoxical that while Ukraine is facing a dramatic situation, citizens and the state leadership of that country are not inclined to dramatize it. Citizens are definitely worried but they are not panicking, the Croatian MEP says.

He added that even without direct military aggression, Russia has been undermining Ukraine's democratic, social and economic development for years, through the dissemination of misinformation and other means, he added.

Picula said, among other things, that during this crisis many European leaders have an opportunity to show their position on the current security architecture in Europe.

Picula believes that the unity of the West is now of crucial importance.

Commenting on the Russian and the European approach, Picula said that it is much simpler for Russia to speak in unison, as it is President Vladimir Putin who speaks about the matter.

On the other hand, the West is pluralistic, various member-states have different sensibilities and interests. In this crisis it is most important to stick to the joint approach in order to make it impossible for Russia to take advantage of disagreements in a bid to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine, said Picula.

"This crisis is a big stress test for us in the European Union, the biggest one since the wars after the breakup of Yugoslavia," he added calling for the European support to Ukrainians' efforts to defend their freedom and way of life.

For more, check out our politics section.