Croatia calls for Stirling aid

April 9, 2004

A Stirling University academic has been offered the post of special adviser to the Croatian prime minister to help forge the country's path to joining the European Union.

Dejan Jovic, who has taught in the university's department of politics for three years, has not yet announced whether he will accept the post.

Croatian media reported that the outspoken academic, who also has a column in one of the country's leading newspapers, was offered a choice of two posts; one as special adviser to Ivo Sanader, the prime minister, and the other as foreign affairs adviser.

Political experts were reportedly surprised at the conservative government's choice - Dr Jovic is not known as a sympathiser. But the government says it agrees with Dr Jovic that membership of the EU is vital for Croatia and views his extensive knowledge of international politics and domicile overseas as key qualifications.

Dr Jovic, a lecturer in international politics, told The Times Higher that he had been surprised and flattered by the approach. He said he was not "a party person" and his politics were on the centre-left. It was encouraging that the government wanted to seek advice from independent experts and people with different views, he added.

The invitation is viewed as a clever move in Croatia, as the government wants to show existing EU members that it will comply with EU regulations and wants to bring together the best in every field to help reform the country according to EU standards.

Dr Jovic said a contract was still under negotiation, but if he took the post it would be on secondment from Stirling rather than the start of a political career. "What I have really wanted all my life is to be an academic. If I can help (Croatia), I will do my best. In the Croatian political system, an adviser is a political appointment but is normally taken by an academic. I want to remain as independent as possible."

Dr Jovic said the EU had seemed very distant to countries such as Croatia, but when they found themselves bordering member countries such as Slovenia, this would strengthen pro-European movements.

Speculation that Croatia might join the EU in 2007 was "a little bit unrealistic", he said, but he believed that 2009 was possible.

Before coming to Stirling, Dr Jovic was a Jean Monnet fellow at the European University Institute in Florence.

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