Excellent relations between France and Croatia

French President Francois Hollande and Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Thursday in Paris underscored the excellent relations between the two countries, between themselves, and that they had many common themes on the agenda since Croatia became a member of the European Union.

Referring to the prime minister as my "friend Zoran" with whom he shared a "great trust," Hollande told reporters after the meeting that relations between Croatia and France were excellent on the "economic front, in infrastructure, energy, culture and Francophony."

Milanovic told reporters that the distinction of a "good politician is to remember everything that was discussed and so I have nothing to add."

Hollande told reporters that he had spoken to Milanovic about the situation in the Balkans too.

I was at the Process in Brdo Pri Kranju in Slovenia which was launched jointly by Slovenia and Croatia, Hollande recalled. He added that the Balkans needs to be stabilised, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and that the region must have a European prospect. That requires caution, he underscored, due to the borders opening up on land and sea.

Asked when he expected Croatia to enter the Schengen zone, Hollande said that he had asked Milanovic the same thing.

If we cooperate well, work together on respect and control of the borders, on security, that could occur within a reasonable time, that means two years after joining the EU, he said. There is a process of verification and when the conditions are met, the Schengen borders will open to Croatia, he added.

Hollande also said that he had spoken to Croatia's prime minister about the future of Europe because Croatia today is a full member of the European Union. We discussed energy, unemployment of the young and the European elections, he said.

We spoke about preparations for the 2014 European elections, he said, underscoring that Europe is slowly coming out of the crisis and that it had accepted an austerity policy and now it is necessary to work so that Europe can once again get back to growth.

Milanovic replied to one question by reporters about what was happening with the Zagreb airport.

"There is no issue over the airport, that matter is pretty much over. A large French investor will build the airport terminal," Milanovic said, underlining that he had a good experience with French investors.

Two French companies, Bouygues and Aeroport de Paris, are part of a consortium that should construct the Zagreb airport terminal. Bouygues has already been an investor in Croatia and constructed the Istria Y motorway.

After meeting with President Hollande, Milanovic was expected to meet his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault which will mark the end of his visit to Paris.

This was the first official meeting between Milanovic and Hollande and the latter stressed in his statement that he had already met with Croatia's President Ivo Josipovic on two occasions, once in 2012 and then this year on July 14 for Bastille Day.