Thursday, 31 May 2012

Don't Waste A Crisis!

Famous words from Winston Churchill, applicable today, and echoed by former Spanish Prime Minister Philipe Gonzalez who sent word to the conference this morning. It is his belief that "Europe has grown through this current crisis and will emerge stronger."

Gonzalez's words were conveyed by Bernard Vergnes, Chairman of the European Executive Council, organizers of the State of the European Union conference. He introduced opening speaker Ivo Josipovic, President of Croatia.

Welcome Speech by the President of Croatia
The desire for accession to the EU has been present for much of Croatia's 20 years of independence, and four months ago, 2/3 of those voting in a referendum approved joining the EU. This desire exists despite changes as a result of the last parliamentary elections; the vision for a unified Europe is important to Croatians.
The historical changes in Europe in 1989 changed the landscape that had been a reality since the end of World War II; new states emerged and set out on a new path. Croatia went through a difficult and complex transitional process: and a war made the transition from authoritarianism to Democracy even more painful. We had to change everything from political to social to economic systems while enduring a war.
These were problems we were not prepared for but we had to resolve these issue despite our lack of experience. The European Union is an anti-war union, it emerges as an expression of concern over individual nations violent nationalism; it is a union for peace and an instrument for achieving greater security. It can provide security and stability to all of its members, and this is central to creating a free and open market.

The EU is a work in Process
The European project is one of permanent development; it matters to us that this development be not only permanent, but also cognizant of the fact that some parts of Europe need more rapid development in order to catch up. We see the EU as an external protagonist that motivates us. We could not have implemented some internal reforms without this external support. Were it not or the EU we would be a small country facing the current economic crisis alone. 
But how do we overcome this crisis we are facing together? 
Being part of the EU has a psychological benefit for us: we are being treated as a "normal" county; it is a confirmation that we have reached a certain level of social development. Croatia is a small country that relies on other countries for its development; it is important we adhere to the framework of Europe as defined by the EU, that the vision of a free, just and developed Europe as our common home.

Our population is just over 4-million however, we want to be involved n the EU decision-making process and based on our experience. We believe we can be a constructive part of this community of nations: the entirety of Europe, including Eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries. A throw-back to nationalism because of the economic crisis would be a set-back for all. Even when things become difficult we should not give up. 
It is easy to say that today the EU has become too complex, but we disagree: the EU is a permanent guarantee of freedom and security and prosperity and we will contribute to it. I call upon business people to work with us to further the European idea, as this will open doors to you where people of good will and good hope wait for you.
Copyright INSEAD Knowledge 2012

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