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Croatia Not Looking Back

Croatian voters cast their ballots at the polling station in Zagreb, Croatia, January 22, 2012.
Croatian voters cast their ballots at the polling station in Zagreb, Croatia, January 22, 2012.

Emerging from a devastating war, Croatia became a successful democracy.

By most measures, since it declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia twenty years ago, Croatia has become a successful democracy.

Since suffering the devastation of war, Croatia has worked hard to democratize its government, move toward a free-market economy and meet the criteria required for integration into European and Atlantic institutions.

Today, the International Monetary Fund classifies Croatia as an emerging and developing economy. Croatia is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, the World Trade Organization and is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean. In December, 2011 Croatia signed the European Union accession treaty and is on track to join the European Union in 2013.

“Croatia has made remarkable progress in only two decades since independence, becoming our NATO ally in 2009, and standing now on the threshold of the EU,” said Deputy of State Secretary of State William Burns during a recent visit to Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.

“Having signed the EU Accession treaty, Croatia is positioned to serve as a role model in the region for European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The United States highly values its partnership with Croatia in resolving outstanding issues in Southeastern Europe.”

That said, Deputy Secretary Burns acknowledged that Croatia still faces some economic hardships, made worse by the global economic recession, adding that the United States will work to encourage greater U.S. private investment in Croatia.

“I want to express strong U.S. support for the. . . . Croatian government and its efforts to undertake economic reform. We especially believe that improvements to the business and investment climate could quickly stimulate growth and strengthen our bilateral economic relationship,” said Deputy Secretary Burns.

“This is a moment of possibility, including possibility for further progress on questions such as EU candidacy status, if states are prepared to follow through and implement the commitments that they’ve made. . . . Croatia offers a real model, a very positive model for its neighbors in the region. We look forward to working closely together with Croatia in encouraging its neighbors to move along that path.”