From left, Croatian prime minister Zoran Milanovic, president Ivo Josipovic and the president of the Croatian parliament Boris Sprem celebrate after announcing national referendum results in the parliament in Zagreb, January 22 2012.
Bulgaria’s unicameral Parliament, the National Assembly, voted by an absolute majority on February 17 2012 to ratify Croatia’s European Union accession treaty.
The speaker of the Croatian parliament, Boris Sprem, was in Parliament in Sofia for the vote at the invitation of his Bulgarian counterpart, Tsetska Tsacheva.
"This act is an expression of Bulgaria’s consistent policy in support of the European future of the region and we are among the first member states to ratify the Treaty," Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov told Parliament.
"Europe acts as a strong magnet, as a motive for change and modernisation in our region. The success of Croatia is a very clear message to the countries of the Balkans, whose place both in historical and cultural terms is in the big European family," he said.
Mladenov issued a reminder that Bulgaria has proceeded on the same long road of reforms and he expressed confidence that the will and capacity of the Croatian state and society will be an example to other countries in the region that EU membership is an achievable goal.
Croatia signed its EU accession treaty on December 9 2011. In a referendum on January 22 2012, Croatians voted 67 per cent in favour of joining the bloc.
On February 2, Slovakia became the first country to ratify the treaty.
The process of ratification of Croatia’s EU accession treaty must be completed by the end of June 2013, with Croatia scheduled to join the bloc on July 1 that year, becoming the EU’s 28th member