Vienna, 21 February 2003 - Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner today welcomed the application for EU Membership submitted by the Republic of Croatia, stating that Austria encourages and supports Croatia in its wish to join the EU.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that the application was not only a clear manifestation of Croatia's continued EU oriented policy but also demonstrated what a long way towards Europe the country had covered in just a few years. Croatia merited both respect and recognition for what it had achieved.
Ferrero-Waldner stressed that Croatia, like all the previous accession candidates, should proceed on its path towards Europe on the basis of its individual achievements. The EU will subject the application to a factual examination and apply the common procedures for accession. The political and economic framework conditions in Croatia already gave reason to hope that Croatia would be capable of fulfilling the accession criteria defined by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993.
The Foreign Minister went on to say that this latest application also demonstrated that the pre-accession policy developed by the EU for all countries of the western Balkans, the Stabilisation and Association Process, was the correct approach. The policy pursued by the EU had contributed decisively to the pacification, recovery and upswing of the countries in the region. Ferrero-Waldner concluded by expressing Austria's conviction that this policy of reform and pre-accession assistance would be consistently continued by the EU.