A panel titled "Croatia's Role in Southeast Europe - Addressing Instability in the Region" was co-organized by the National Federation of Croatian Americans and the Congressional Croatian Caucus was hosted in Washington on Friday.
Participants agreed that the US has not lost interest in Croatia and her surroundings, and that Washington views Croatia as a factor of stability in southeast Europe. Croatia has already achieved its primary foreign policy objectives, membership of NATO and the European Union. However, the National Federation of Croatian Americans wants to ensure that politicians in Washington don’t lose interest in Croatia and her surroundings.
"These kinds of panels and just having this meeting today and having the caucus come together and host these presentations, helps us in the US continue to understand where Croatia was and where it’s going, which is very important," said the former US Senator from Alaska Mark Begich.
Among America’s key concerns in the wider region are relations between Kosovo and Serbia and the dysfunctional political framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Professor Daniel Serwer from Johns Hopkins University feels that Croatia’s role in these cases is a positive one. "Croatia is definitely a story of success, and what I would like to see is it export its success, especially to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where frankly it has a great deal of influence over the Bosnian Croats," Professor Serwer said.
Croatia’s Ambassador to the United States, Pjer Šimunović, emphasized that Croatia continues to support the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkan countries, but added that the US remains an important factor of peace and stability given Russia’s growing interest in the region. "From our talks with our American colleagues we can also see they have not neglected southeast Europe or the Western Balkans, in fact they have given it a new importance. And Croatia is definitely one of America’s primary partners in joint efforts to stabilize the Western Balkans."
The Congressional Croatian Caucus was established on Capitol Hill 14 years ago. The President of the National Federation of Croatian Americans, Steve Rukavina, noted that the caucus and the NFCA are working together to strengthen ties with Croatia. "We have congressmen and congresswomen that belong to this caucus, and so we try and have an event or two to just foster better relationships between Americans and Croatians, the Croatian government and the US government," Rukavina said
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