Press Gaggle Following the Croatia Forum

Press Availability
Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Dubrovnik, Croatia
July 11, 2014

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Hello everybody, I'm delighted to be back at the Dubrovnik conference. It's is a very, very special and beautiful place that you have here, and the timing is always perfect at the end of the semester when we can all come together as the Euro-Atlantic community, focusing particularly on this region to look at the work we've done together to strengthen a Europe whole, free and at peace, and to look ahead at what we need to do together. As you know, I gave extensive remarks earlier about the U.S. agenda, about what we think we need together. Just to say what a fantastic ally Croatia is. I am so proud of the progress, and we are proud as a nation of the progress, that Croatia has made in these years as a strong EU and NATO member now. We work together on regional issues, the Balkans, we work together on Transatlantic issues and European security, including our work on Ukraine. But increasingly now, we're working together on things like energy security and Croatia's aspiration to be a regional hub, a transit hub, and you have spectacular assets in order to do that, so long as you make smart choices going forward. And also the global agenda. We work together in Afghanistan and we're working together now on things like removing chemical weapons from Syria. So it's great to be back in Croatia and I'm very glad of the opportunity to see so many colleagues at this conference.

Question: Even though we're in Croatia, I would like to touch on U.S.-German relations. Can you tell me, what efforts did U.S. senior officials, including Ambassador Emerson, do to defuse the situation with Germany and prevent the expulsion of the embassy official?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well, I think we talked about this from Washington and I'm not sure I have much to add, but you know how important our strategic alliance is with Germany, how important the whole range of issues we work on together is, but also our intelligence relationship, which has been very important for the security of Germany, for the security of the United States and frankly, for the security of the whole Transatlantic space.

Question: You were mentioning today in your speech also the region and Bosnia Herzegovina especially. How do you see the situation nowadays in this country and where do you see the solution? Is there any solution, because Bosnia seems to be stuck?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: We think the solution is quite clear. The solution is to do more to unify the country, to do more to serve the people of the country, rather than the individual personal interests of leaders, that there needs to be constitutional reform, that there needs to be strengthening of national institutions. We think that that has been clear for quite some time. What is missing is political will. So Bosnia is going to have an election in the fall. That will be an important opportunity for the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to express their will about the country that they want to live in. It's very clear from some of the protests that we've seen that there's a lot of frustration, that politicians are not serving the people. So those elections will be a very important opportunity for the people of the country to express themselves and then we'll be able to move forward afterwards.

Question: So the people have to choose.

Assistant Secretary Nuland: They do. They have to choose their future.

Question: You've mentioned cooperation with Croatia in terms of energy. And in recent days, both Russian and U.S. officials have toured Croatia and you said that Croatia has to make smart choices. What do you think is U.S. interest? What do you see as the U.S. interest in Croatia in terms of energy, and what do you say about the Russians?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: The U.S. has a profound interest in the energy security of the entire Euro-Atlantic space. And by energy security, we mean competitive pricing, we mean diversification of supply, we mean diversification of types of energy used. I think you probably heard our President when he gave a speech in Brussels in March talk about energy security now being as important as traditional security, as important as economic security, and it is part and parcel of our economic security. Europeans pay too much now for their energy. So all you have to do is look at all the projects that Croatia is involved with and all of the opportunities here from TAP, to a positive relationship between Croatia and Hungary, which will open opportunities through that pipeline, to exploration offshore, to LNG opportunities, and you really have an opportunity to become a transit center for this model of diversification. And that will serve the economy of Croatia well, but it will also provide a certain liberation for some of your neighbors who now have limited opportunities.

Thank you.