A six-month twinning light project with Lithuania was formally launched today at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The project is aimed at building the capacity of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in carrying out the role of the national coordinator of EU affairs. Opening remarks were delivered by Nataša Mikuš Žigman, the Director of the Central Finance and Contracting Agency, who spoke of twining light projects in Croatia as well as the cooperation between institutions in their organization and implementation.
“Once Croatia joined the EU, a new type of coordination was required, one that involves speed, focus, precision and other traits that haven’t been associated with state administration before,” said Minister Pusić at the launching ceremony.
“As early as the first week of membership we had to prepare a series of positions, some of them being of serious impact. Some topics require unanimous decision, and if a member state hasn’t prepared the position it advocated, the whole process comes to a halt,” she said.
“Lithuania presided over the Council of the EU in difficult circumstances, dealing with global issues. It showed that its institutions are functioning, it showed sacrifice, and it showed absolute commitment to the task of presidency. Therefore, we are honoured to be cooperating with our Lithuanian friends on advancing the EU coordination in Croatia. This is a life-long learning process, and it is up to use to use Lithuania’s experiences, adapt them to our situation and share them with our neighbours – EU candidates and potential candidates,” Pusić said.
Ambassador Branko Baričević, the Head of the European Commission Representation in Zagreb, said the European Commission had expressed support for this project as well, as Croatia with its example, know-how and experience in EU coordination was having an impact on its neighbourhood. “Throughout the entire negotiating process Croatia was building a system of EU affairs coordination, with an emphasis on strengthening precisely those capacities. Having joined the EU, Croatia adopted a new coordination system, which requires new and creative ways of problem solving,” said Baričević.
Assistant Minister for European Affairs Hrvoje Marušić and Lithuanian project leader Julius Pranevičius presented the main goals and concrete activities of the project.
For the next six months Lithuanian experts will be visiting Croatia to transfer their experiences in EU coordination to civil servants from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs as well as other relevant ministries. Lithuania joined the EU 10 years ago and presided over the bloc in the second half of 2013.
The project is worth 250,000 euros, 90% of which will be covered by the EU and the rest by Croatia.