The pandemic showed the importance of multilateralism and cooperation, for both Europe and China

Photo /Vijesti/2021/veljača/09 veljače/EtxwhkBWQAcuN2K.jpg

Prime Minister Plenkovic addressed ​the online summit of Central and Eastern European countries and China (17+1) earlier today, stressing once more that the pandemic showed again the importance of good governance and multilateral cooperation for both Europe and China. 

Full address by the Prime Minister:

Dear President Xi,
Distinguished Presidents and Prime Ministers,
Excellences, dear friends,
It is my pleasure to participate at today's 17+1 Summit.

Two years ago, in 2019, the last in-person summit took place in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.

The Summit was indeed a historic one, since we enlarged our Cooperation to include Greece, as a new member.

We were all looking forward to our meeting in Beijing in 2020, but the pandemic has unfortunately changed our realities.

Today we are meeting online to go a step further in strengthening our Cooperation that started a decade ago.
Dear friends,

The global crisis caused by the Coronavirus brought unprecedented challenges that forced us to accelerate change.

We must embrace this change, as it is an opportunity to better manage the Digital and the Green transition. 

The pandemic showed the importance of both – good governance and multilateral cooperation.

Global cooperation helped us all to contain the disease, to develop efficient vaccines and to acquire enough medical and protective equipment.

In addition, our common effort and solidarity will be crucial to deliver the vaccine to everyone, which is the main prerequisite to end the pandemic.

In this regard, Croatia will work with all its partners committed to:
  • effective multilateralism,
  • free trade based on a level playing field,
  • reciprocity and equal market access,
  • sustainable development agenda
  • and climate resilience and carbon neutrality.
In my view, China + 17 is a unique initiative, which builds bridges between Europe and Asia, thus complementing our own efforts within the European Union.  

I am convinced that our cooperation through exchange of good practices offers us a privileged framework for an enhanced and speedy recovery of both Europe and China in the forthcoming period.

That is why we are open to working together on post-pandemic recovery of our societies and economies.

Croatia advocates practical cooperation for greater investment and balanced trade.

In this regard, Croatia is particularly focused on the fields of infrastructure, science and innovation, as well as on tourism, mobility and small and medium-sized enterprises.

In that sense, the Pelješac Bridge project – funded by the EU and built by a Chinese company – is a flagship example of the type of concrete and tangible projects that Croatia would like to focus on.

Another notable project is the Croatian-Chinese NORINCO windmill farm, the biggest Chinese investment into clean energy in Croatia, to be completed this year.

I cannot forget to mention how this cooperation framework was valuable when the pandemic struck.

In spring last year, for Croatia, it helped facilitate the procurement of sufficient quantities of protective equipment.

This ensured timely and adequate supplies and we are thankful for Premier Li’s support in this endeavour that saved many lives.
Dear friends

This year, I am glad that we will conclude an agreement between Croatia and Slovenia with China on the establishment of the 17+1 Sports Centre, so that Croatia will become a focal point for summer sports whereas Slovenia for winter sports.

We will also sign a Memorandum on Mutual Recognition of High Level Degrees.

In tourism, to recognise the best tourism products that include at least three countries of the Initiative, we created the Marco Polo Tourism Award.

After our successful agreement allowing export of Croatian dairy products to China, we are hoping for a similar breakthrough for our meat, fish and honey producers.

I would like to, once again, thank you all for your solidarity and assistance after the two big earthquakes that hit Croatia last year, in March and in December.

Finally, I would like to thank President Xi for giving us the opportunity to meet again and to continue deepening our cooperation.

To our Chinese friends, I wish you a happy Spring Festival.

May the Year of the Ox bring prosperity, health and satisfaction to us all!