Interview mit Botschafter Hans Peter Annen im Bordmagazin Croatia, Frühjahr 2013

You started working as a research assistant and ended up in diplomacy. How did you make that decision?

- Actually, I was completely unprepared far my service in the Ministry of Foreign Attairs. but I responded to the challenge to start something completely new. My wife agreed to that. I come from a very simple family of craftsmen and farmers. None of us could have imagined a lifeabroad or in diplomatic service. Today we all talk about mobility, but back then, in the mid 1970s, mobüity was actually not our reality. I am grateful that I have had this opportunity notwithstanding my social origins, and I can say that my background was neither a social bonus nor a handicap.

But with that much mobility, how do you maintain the continuity of your own life?

- Flexibility is a natural prerequisite. However, far me it was always important to have a safe anchor in my life. This anchor is my family,  my friends, my homeland and my country. I continually maintain these connections. Also, I have always tried to preserve my own inner independence, and I have various interests, but at the same time I keep both feet on the ground. I have always managed to find that balance in my interest in music and sports, primarily soccer.

Your job is representing Germany in the world; you provide a picture of your country to others. How do you perceive your country?

- Germany is a democratic country. It is colourful, diverse and open; it follows the European path and has learned lessons from the past. Almost 10 percent of the German population have their roots in foreign countries, including around three hundred thousand German citizens of Croatian origin. We are in Europe, a strong part of the European Union. I grew up in the state which borders France so I have seen with my own eyes the great changes which took place in these two
countries after World War II. After beinq enemies for centuries, we have built very close and friendly relations. It is a nice feeling today when you easily cross the borders which once separated people. With regard to my work at the Ernbassy. I perceive all of us as workers in a service providing company. We assist in the establishment and development of as good poltical, economic and cultural relations as possible; we enable people to meet each other because such contacts are a key to cooperation. Your country is annually visited by almost two million people frorn my country; we account for one quarter of the total number of foreign tourists, and the number of German investments in your country is very large - we are at the very top of the list of foreign investors. Of course, for the Embassy, the most important activity is the German ratification of the Treaty of Accession for Croatia's accession to the EU. The Embassy is quite
engaged in this.

How do you feel in Croatia? Have you visited our country before?

- In the 1980s, as a tourist, I visited Šibenik and Zadar, and sailed around the Kornati Islands. Today, I have to emphasise this, my wife and I feel great in your country. We rarely started feeling at home in such a short period of time like here in Croatia; a country in the centre of Europe. People here are dignified, hospitable and open; thus we quickly fitted in. Also, I like that throughout the country, which is very beautiful and diverse, one can experience history first hand, from the Roman Antique, through the Renaissance, to the heritage of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the traces of the war in the 1990s. I think that Germany and Croatia have many similarities when it comes to the impressive beauty of our towns and nature.

What do you think will change with Croatia's accession to the European Union?

- Croatia's accession to the European Union is of historical importance not only for Croatia but also for Europe. Even the pre-accession process for Croatia brought about profound changes in politics, economics and society. Acoession to the European Union also confirms that Croatia is part of the European family. I do not think that all the problems will be automatically solved with the accession. Croatia is even now an efficient country and will be an equal partner to us, but, just like all of us, Croatia will have to work hard and continuously develop. It is a fact that accession to the European Union represents the beginning of a new chapter in Croatian history, and the reforms will continue. I strongly believe that Croatia will be a successful and active member of the European Union.