Local Lib Dem Euro MP Phil Bennion has welcomed Croatia becoming the EU’s 28th member state this week as a victory for the British vision of a wider Europe.
Phil Bennion spoke out as the first Croatian MEPs took their seats in the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, after the country’s formal accession on Monday this week, after many years of negotiations.
Phil said: “It is great news that Croatia has finally joined the European Union, a project which Liberals across Europe and in Croatia have long been working for.
“Joining the EU will cement a democratic future for this beautiful country, which over one million Brits visited last year.
“We must not forget that this new nation was still at war with Serbia just 18 years ago. This is good news for trade and tourism but most importantly for peace and democracy.
“It is also important to remember that expanding the European Union from a small Western European club has long been a cross-party British objective.
“Margaret Thatcher went out of her way to encourage former communist countries to join the EU in the 1980s and she was right.
“Today is a victory for democrats in Croatia but also for British foreign policy and our vision of a wider Europe.
“I hope that Serbia and the other former Yugoslavian countries will join the EU soon as well – after meeting the requirements for democracy and human rights that all member states must pass. In this continuing Balkan peace process, Croatia has a vital bridge-building role.”