Croatia welcomed as newest member of EU ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: AP/Scanpix

Estonian officials welcomed the accession today of Croatia as the European Union's 28th member.

EU-Croatian accession talks took place from 2005 to 2011. The European Parliament ratified the accession agreement last March and Croatia held a national referendum last January, where 66 percent of the population supported joining the EU.

"The most important thing for Estonia is that the EU is made up of countries that understand Estonia's problems. And Croatia's status is somewhat similar to our own,” Mart Nutt, a member of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told ERR radio.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said in a press release that the accession demonstrates the vitality of EU enlargement policy and sets a role model for reform in other countries in the Balkan region.

"The enlargement of the European Union has been one of Estonia's foreign policy priorities," he said, giving support to talks and proposed talks with Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Iceland, Macedonia and Turkey.

But Nutt said the next new EU members probably wouldn't come until several years down the road.

"The likelihood that the EU will enlarge further in the coming years is fairly small,” Nutt said.

"I think that after the joining of Croatia, the EU will remain the way it currently is for several years to come,” he said, adding that he envisions that the whole Balkan region will eventually obtain membership in the EU. Turkey, on the other hand, is a different issue, with Germany and France still resisting accession.