Plenkovic: Focus of Croatian EU presidency to be on SE Europe

Photo /Vijesti/2020/01 siječanj/21 siječnja/EOzKeK_W4AAZoDl.jpg

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Tuesday it was good that the focus of the Croatian EU presidency was on the countries of Southeast Europe because the process of integration of these countries into the European Union was not a priority for the Union.

Plenkovic was speaking to Croatian reporters covering his attendance at the annual summit of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. Together with leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, he participated in panels on diplomatic dialogue on the Western Balkans and on generating growth in Central and Eastern Europe, and held a number of bilateral meetings.

"I'm trying to calibrate the expectations of all our neighbours from the Croatian presidency of the EU this year because, realistically speaking, it is good that Croatia is putting the focus on the countries of Southeast Europe given so many other important topics," Plenkovic said.

"If someone else was the president now, I doubt that this would be a topic, given Brexit and a new contractual relationship with the United Kingdom, a seven-year budget that is yet to be adopted, a conference on the future of Europe and the Green Deal package," he added.

Plenkovic said that the World Economic Forum was an excellent opportunity to talk to heads of state and government and leaders of international organisations, financial institutions and large companies that are interested in cooperation.

He said that during the EU presidency it was important to "dynamise relations between our neighbours and the European Union," expressing hope that the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May would be a success.

"There are quite great expectations from the Zagreb summit in May. It will be an opportunity, I hope, to unblock this situation with North Macedonia and Albania, take a step further and define the future relationship with all the countries in our neighbourhood in the next decade," the Croatian PM said.

Plenkovic held bilateral meetings in Davos with Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Sarec and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, and ahead of the first panel he was to attend, he also met briefly with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who in a statement for the Belgrade media described the meeting as "open and pleasant."

Vucic said the talks were about Croatia-Serbia relations and that it seemed to him that more trust and optimism was expressed.

In a comment on the general highlights of this year's World Economic Forum, PM Plenkovic described as positive a socially responsible view of capitalism and the need for global market stakeholders to have a sense of both social elements and climate change, in line with what was being done at UN and EU level.

This year's World Economic Forum in Davos, the 50th such conference, is attended by numerous politicians, business people, activists and scientists, including US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Participants in the WEF, which lasts until Friday, will attend more than 350 panels, presentations, workshops and sessions on numerous important topics, including the fight against climate change, slowing down global economic growth, trade wars, and geopolitical tension in the Middle East, East Asia and in the north of Africa.

This year's WEF has brought together more than 3,000 participants from more than 120 countries, including 53 heads of state or government and management board chairs of eight of the world's ten most valuable companies.

PM Plenkovic will attend an informal meeting of world economic leaders on the topic "An ascendant Europe", and he is also to meet Georgian PM Giorgi Gakharia, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, Dutch PM Mark Rutte, and French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno La Maire.

He will also meet with Ilian Mihov, Dean of the INSEAD Singapore business school, IMF Executive Director Kristalina Georgieva, Visa Europe Executive Director Charlotte Hogg, European Investment Bank President Alexander Stubb and management board chair Gillian Tans.

Text: Hina

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