Croatia boosts Canada's bid for security council seat
Canwest News Service
Friday, May 07, 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper gestures as he gives a press conference
on May 5, 2010 at the end of his meeting at the European Union Council
building, in Brussels. Harper continues his European tour Friday,
travelling from Amsterdam to Croatia's capital Zagreb.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gestures as he gives a
press conference on May 5, 2010 at the end of his meeting at the
European Union Council building, in Brussels. Harper continues his
European tour Friday, travelling from Amsterdam to Croatia's capital
ZAGREB, Croatia - Canada's bid for a United Nations
Security Council seat got a boost from Croatia as Prime Minister Stephen
Harper passed through the country's capital Friday, en route to meet
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is also competing for the
Saturday's meeting with Merkel will bring an end
to Harper's European tour this week that also took him to Belgium and
Ahead of his trip to Berlin, Harper met Friday
evening with Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor, who threw her
support behind Canada's campaign to get on the UN's most elite and
powerful body. Canada is in a three-way race with Germany and Portugal
for one of the two 'western' spots out of 10 non-permanent positions on
The Conservative government has been operating a
campaign to promote Canada's candidacy leading up to the October vote.
rotating seat up for grabs is a two-year term that would begin in
Harper, who praised Croatia for the progress it has
made in the nearly 20 years it has been an independent nation, said his
visit was long overdue.
'I'm really delighted that this is the
first visit of a Canadian prime minister to Croatia,' Harper said at a
news conference following his meeting with Kosor. 'Croatia has proven to
be a true ally of Canada in Afghanistan for example and also in our
campaign for a seat at the UN Security Council.'
similarly seeking a place in an international organization - the
European Union - and while he was not asked for his opinion on the
pending acceptance, Harper went out of his way to express support for
'Canada is obviously extremely supportive of the general
policy of the government of Croatia to more fully integrate into the
euro-Atlantic community,' said Harper. 'Notwithstanding the history of
the Communist period, Croatia has really always been, not just today,
but Croatia has always been at heart a western country.'
is currently negotiating its entrance into the EU and is hopeful the
process will be completed by 2011.
Harper's visit to the small
eastern country of four million people is being viewed by some
Canadian-Croats as highly symbolic.
Gordy Samija, a Montreal
native of Croatian descent who is now working and raising his family in
Zagreb, said Canada's support for Croatia is boosting its credibility on
the world scene.
'As a Canadian-Croatian I'm very proud the
prime minister is here today,' said Samija. Wearing a Montreal Canadiens
hockey jersey, Samija was at the picturesque St. Mark's Square to catch
a glimpse of Harper as he was officially greeted by Kosor and brought
into Government House where their meeting was held. Samija later got to
meet Harper, a huge hockey fan who told reporters Friday he is cheering
for the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks because he wants
the Stanley Cup brought back to Canadian soil.
Canadian who decided to leave Canada for Zagreb, Mark Mocnaj, said
Harper's visit, as well as a previous one by Gov. Gen Michaelle Jean 'speaks volumes'.
'It sends a clear message that Croatia is
accepted in the world in the community of democracies,' said Mocnaj, who
also came to St. Mark's Square to see Harper arrive.
nothing less than historic to have the prime minister visit.'
visit last October came a few months after Canada lifted the visa
requirement for Croatian citizens travelling to Canada, a decision that
Croatia's prime minister said Friday was highly appreciated.
two leaders signed an accord after their meeting to promote travel and
youth employment in each other's countries. The agreement will allow for
Canadians and Croatians aged 18 to 35 to travel and work in each
other's countries for up to one year. Canada has similar agreements with
26 other countries.
Harper's meeting was one of a series this
week with world leaders. In Brussels he met with leaders of the European
Union, in the Netherlands, after attending a 65th anniversary of the
country's liberation ceremony, he met with Dutch prime minister Jan
Peter Balkenende and Saturday he meets with Merkel.
comes at the end of a tumultuous week of market activity and backlash
against the financial bailout for Greece and the austerity measures its
government has introduced. The bailout is particularly unpopular in
Germany where a major regional election is being held Sunday.
Canwest News Service 2010