Plenkovic in Davos: It's important to join 4th Industrial Revolution

This year's World Economic Forum focuses on the adjustment of states, international organisations and all societal stakeholders to what the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings, and it is in everyone's interest to get involved in this process in good time, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Davos on Thursday.

"It is a process everyone should get promptly involved in to ensure development and competitiveness on the global market, to contribute with technological development and national reforms, encourage innovation and join the global competition in the face of the current challenges weighing on the world order," the prime minister told reporters.

Plenkovic attended two panels, one on Globalisation 4.0 and the other on Europe. The first one focused on all current topics, including economic issues, trade wars, climate change, security issues, and global governance.

"Several months before the European Parliament elections, the main challenges are the completion of the Brexit process, security-related issues, migration, the multiannual budget and most importantly a speedier convergence, reducing inequalities among citizens in the member states," Plenkovic said.

Plenkovic meets a number of executives of global companies

On the first day of the World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic was having a number of meetings with executives of global companies operating or interested in operating in Croatia.

Among them were the CEOs of DAMAC Group, Hoffmann-La Roche, Antofagasta Minerals and Marriott International, the vice-president of Coca-Cola, Google's president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the vice-president of Mastercard.

"At a forum like this, many global companies seek contact with leaders to see how they can help their companies to establish a presence in their country," Plenkovic told Croatian reporters.

He said that Google had shown interest in digitisation in Croatia, Coca-Cola wanted to make its contribution to social responsibility and Mastercard was interested in financial services. He said that the Marriott hotel chain was interested in establishing a presence in Croatia.

Plenkovic in particular singled out the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, which has made it possible for 12 Croatian citizens suffering from spinal muscular atrophy to receive free treatment in Croatia during the clinical testing of its drug. "This was the result of last year's Davos, and now we are expanding the cooperation with them," he added.

Asked if last year's meetings with business executives in Davos had been productive, Plenkovic cited the example of, saying that "it is doing an excellent job helping the Croatian tourist industry."

Talks with the Luksic Group were also excellent last year. In addition to their presence in the tourism sector, they have also provided an excellent training programme for civil servants and the digitisation of public services, with emphasis on the healthcare system, he said.

On Thursday evening, the Croatian prime minister is due to meet with the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, and for the first time with the leader of the German CDU party and possible future Chancellor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

Plenkovic recalled that last year in Davos he had a number of meetings with prime ministers, adding that this year he wanted to hear first-hand what the Irish prime minister thought of Brexit.

We are strongly defending Minister Tolusic's integrity

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Davos on Thursday evening that the government  was strongly defending the integrity of Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic.

Asked to comment on the case of fake photographs showing Tolusic with a prostitute and cocaine, which some claim was spun by the government, the prime minister resolutely dismissed such speculation, saying that the government did not have time for things like that.

"As I understand, Nacional received some compromising photographs. The photographs were later also received by the SOA (Security and Intelligence Agency)  and it checked their authenticity," Plenkovic said, adding that it was the duty of the security services to protect the institutions of the state.

He said that the SOA had done an excellent job and prevented a "made-up crisis".

"I reject any banal speculation that the government or the party would do this to themselves. People who say this know nothing about us or how we work. We don't have time for that. We don't do such things nor are we interested. We are strongly defending the minister's integrity," the prime minister said, adding that some media lack sensibility towards the minister's family.

Text: Hina