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PM Sanader holds several bilateral meetings on margins of Dubrovnik summit

ZAGREB, July 7 (Hina) - During talks with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader on Saturday, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said he was optimistic about Croatia receiving an invitation at the next NATO summit to join the military alliance.

Sanader and Scheffer met on the margins of the Croatia Summit in Dubrovnik to discuss Croatia's prospects for NATO membership and the implementation of the last NATO Membership Action Plan.

The NATO Secretary-General was very optimistic about Croatia being extended an invitation for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation at the next summit in Bucharest in 2008, and expressed his satisfaction with the progress and preparations the Croatian government has made in the defence sector, the government public relations office said in a statement.

Sanader also met OSCE Chairman-in-Office Miguel Angel Moratinos, who praised Croatia for the successful completion of the transition process and for a high level of development of democratic institutions.

Croatia has transformed from a country that required international assistance in such processes into a country that provides such support to others, Moratinos said.

During the meeting, as well as at the summit, the Spanish official said he would propose closure of the OSCE Mission in Croatia. In his capacity as Spanish Foreign Minister, he relayed to Sanader an invitation from Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero to visit Spain, which the Croatian prime minister accepted with pleasure.

Sanader also met Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis, who commended Croatia for playing an active role in the Council of Europe. According to the statement, Davis said Croatia could serve as an example to other Southeast European countries in democratic development and that the Council of Europe appreciated its active role in all processes in this part of Europe.

During a bilateral meeting with Sanader, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed his country's full support for Croatia's efforts to join the EU and NATO, and presented a letter in which Slovakia expressed its support for the closure of the OSCE Mission in Croatia.

During talks with Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis, who had played host to the last NATO summit in Riga, both prime ministers said that the Dubrovnik summit was an important stop in the further development of Euro-Atlantic relations and a good preparation for the forthcoming alliance meeting in Bucharest in the spring of 2008. Kalvitis also expressed his country's support for Croatia's membership of NATO and the EU.

The Croatian prime minister also met Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. They discussed the situation in Southeast Europe, and Bildt announced a visit by Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt to Croatia in August 2008, the statement said.