Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, Moldova

Agnes Nicolescu
Croatia most likely to join the EU
As reflected in the Romanian press,[1] the most likely country to join the EU is Croatia, followed by Serbia, despite the lagging dispute over Kosovo. The focus is on the economic progress achieved by Croatia so far, as compared to countries like Romania and Bulgaria – which are already members of the EU – and on the fact that interruptions and delays in Zagreb’s path towards EU membership were mostly connected to the consequences of the armed conflicts in the early 1990s. Some experts suggest that, should it not have been for the territorial disputes with Slovenia, Croatia would have become an EU member in 2004.[2]
Croatia’s efforts to meet the accession criteria are viewed in a positive light by Romanian officials. On the occasion of a meeting between Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi with Gordan Jandroković, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Croatia, the head of Romanian diplomacy “appreciated the accelerated pace of negotiations for accession to the European Union, emphasising the important role the Republic of Croatia plays in the region.”[3]
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, underlined[4] the importance of the presence of Serbian president Boris Tadić at a summit of Balkan countries, organised following a joint Slovenian-Croatian proposal.
As far as Iceland’s EU application is concerned, the Romanian mass media underlines that, despite serious economic and financial difficulties, Brussels considers Reykjavik a strong candidate for EU membership. Materials tackling this topic focus on the recommendations given by the EU for the opening of accession negotiations on grounds that Iceland could almost immediately finalise 24 out of 35 negotiation chapters. Through Iceland, the EU could gain access to the Arctic region, which holds “strategic importance”[5] due to its mineral resources.
Still No Perspectives for Turkey’s EU membership aspirations
The Romanian press points to Germany’s and France’s strong stances against Turkey’s EU bid as a major factor which obstructs Ankara’s European path. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reiterated a “privileged partnership” status for Turkey, which, however, does not mean anything more than already exists. The liberal Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Alexander Graf Lambsdorff has even suggested that the EU should introduce for certain countries – such as Turkey or Ukraine – an intermediary membership status superior to the so-called privileged partnership quality.[6]
Romanian media dealing with the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Paris quote Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, who believes “that the most important result of the encounter was the fact that President Sarkozy accepted the invitation to [go to] Turkey at the end of this year.”[7] Unlike his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, under whose mandate Ankara started accession negotiations to the EU, Nicolas Sarkozy has blocked the opening of five out of the 35 mandatory chapters of the accession talks. Other countries, among which are Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, are strongly in favour of Turkey’s EU application, welcoming its geostrategic role as a link to Islamic civilisations.
Moldova must maintain the current fast pace of reforms
The Eastern Partnership holds a particular strategic significance for both Romanian decision-makers and the public opinion, being viewed as a chance to bring Ukraine and Moldova closer to the EU, which can only increase Romania’s and the EU’s security and stability in the eastern area. Romanian officials strongly support the Eastern Partnership and, particularly, Moldova’s Europeanization efforts and, ultimately, EU membership aspirations, although the process is deemed by most analysts as full of challenges. Experts from think tanks maintain a reserved yet reasonably optimistic view on Moldova’s recent progress, stressing the need for it to continue its current fast pace of reforms as set in the “Rethink Moldova” strategy. Cristian Ghinea and Victor Chirilă[8] believe this strategy of “pre-emptive implementation” adopted by Moldova will pay off in the medium and long-term, as Chişinău has already adopted the set of pre-conditions needed for a visa liberalisation road map, without being asked to. The Romanian President Basescu is more optimistic about Moldova’s European destiny, emphasising the strategic partnership between the Republic of Moldova and Romania and aiming to support Moldova’s European integration.[9]
The Romanian journalist Flavius Ţone analyses some of the findings of a report by Andrew Wilson, who recommends the stimulation of a positive competition between Ukraine and Moldova and a refraining from any hostile actions against Romania.[10] Particular attention is also paid to the contradictions surrounding Ukraine’s European aspirations, in a context in which Kyiv seems set to choose a pragmatic rapprochement to Russia instead of the time-consuming EU accession process.
As far as the Union for the Mediterranean is concerned, press coverage has focused on identifying connections between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, highlighting the need for an integrated approach to European maritime security (Black Sea – Mediterranean Sea – Baltic Sea).[11] This topic is tackled from the perspective of the concrete solutions it could offer for regional issues of shared interest, such as the Arab-Israeli peace process.

[1] Claudia SILAGHI: Croaţia la portile Uniunii Europene. Ne dati ori nu ne daţi?, 29 March 2010, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi meets with Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Jandroković, press release, 30 April 2010, available at: (last access: 18 May 2010).

[4] România liberă: Catherine Ashton susţine organizarea unui summit pe tema integrării în UE a ţărilor din Balcani, 16 February 2010, available at: (last access: 7 May 2010).

[5] Cristina OROVEANU: Islanda în UE: datorie contra energie, Adevărul, 25 February 2010, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[6] William TOTOK: Germania în continuare împotriva aderării Turciei la UE, RFI, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).

[7] A. SIMSEK: Sarkozy stă în calea aderării Turciei la UE, Southeast European Times, 20 April 2010, available at: (last access: 16 May 2010).

[8] Cristian GHINEA/Victor CHIRILĂ: EU-Moldova negotiations – What is to be discussed, what could be achieved?, CRPE, 11 May 2010, available at: (last access: 18 May 2010).

[9] Romanian Presidency Press release: Declaraţie de presă comună a preşedintelui României, Traian Băsescu, şi a preşedintelui interimar al Republicii Moldova, Mihai Ghimpu, 27 April 2010, available at: (last access: 18 May 2010).

[10] Flavius ŢONE: Cum poate fi Ucraina menţinută lângă Europa, Adevărul, 29 March 2010, available at: (last access: 7 May 2010).

[11] Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release: Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi meets with the Minister of Political Development from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Dr. Musa Maaytah, 7 April 2010, available at: (last access: 17 May 2010).