- Published: 05.12.2018.
Pellegrini says Slovakia for Schengen Area enlargement, Croatia ready to join
Slovakia believes it is very important to strengthen the external borders of and enlarge the Schengen Area and that Croatia is ready to enter it, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said on Tuesday after meeting with Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic, voicing confidence that Zagreb would achieve that goal.
The two prime ministers met in Zagreb as part of a Central European Initiative (CEI) summit.
I'm convinced that Croatia already meets all the criteria, both technical and formal, and I believe Croatia will succeed in entering Schengen, Pellegrini told reporters, saying he was glad that Slovakia had contributed to that with its experts.
Plenkovic said Slovakia's support for "Croatia's ambition to become part of the Schengen Area is very clear and firm." "We also want to meet the criteria for the euro area. Those two close integration formats at European Union level are very important for Croatia."
Pellegrini voiced hope that Croatia would enter the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERMII).
Slovakia never regretted entering the euro area. That's a very successful story and, because we have the euro as our currency, we mainly do business with euro area countries. That makes doing business a lot easier, he said, adding that one should not be afraid of adopting the euro.
Plenkovic said Croatia and Slovakia had excellent cooperation in NATO, the EU and other initiatives, and highlighted the economic cooperation. "Our trade has reached EUR 400 million and more than 500,000 Slovak tourists have visited the country."
The two prime ministers said they were glad they had managed to agree on the next European budget.
It was also thanks to Prime Minister Plenkovic that we managed to sign a joint declaration on that plan last week in Bratislava as part of 14 EU countries, said Pellegrini, referring to a Friends of Cohesion meeting.
"Reducing inequalities among EU member states is quite high on our list of priorities, so the cohesion policy and agriculture are a common priority of both Slovakia and Croatia," said Plenkovic.
He and Pellegrini also talked about the successful cooperation in the economy, notably tourism, defence, industry and energy.
Croatia is our constant partner and will certainly remain so, said Pellegrini, while Plenkovic said the CEI market was "very important for Croatia" as it accounted for 55% of its trade.
They supported the countries wishing to join the EU, with Pellegrini warning that if aspirants were denied firm and clear support, other countries such as China, Russia and Turkey could step in.
After Pellegrini, Plenkovic was due to meet with Albanian PM Edi Rama.