President Grabar-Kitarović to Visit Malta

This week, the Croatian President will embark on a state visit to Malta.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović will embark on a two-day state visit to Malta, the country which presides over the European Union for the first six months of this year, for the first time since becoming a member of the European Union in 2004, reports Večernji List on May 8, 2017.

This will be the first state visit of a Croatian president to Malta. Grabar-Kitarović was invited by the Maltese President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, and she will also meet with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Parliament Speaker Angelo Farrugia. The President will also meet with the leader of the Maltese opposition.

The visit has been organised during the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union and coincides with the celebration of Europe Day on 9 May.

Taking over the presidency of the European Union, this small island state, one of the most densely populated states in the world, included the resolution of the refugee crisis in it's priorities, given that it is a country that, along with Greece and Italy, is at the forefront of the migratory wave on the Mediterranean migrant route.

The migration crisis was one of the main topics of an informal EU summit that was held in Malta in February. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković also attended the meeting, when he met with the Maltese president and Prime Minister. Plenkovic discussed, among other things, bilateral relations between Croatia and Malta, and the strengthening of economic cooperation between the two.

His assessment was that the relations between Croatia and Malta are very good, that it is a country with which Croatia shares many cultural and civil ties and wants to improve economic co-operation. “Malta is comprised of three islands that are slightly larger than the Croatian island of Hvar and little smaller than Brač, and on which more than 450,000 people live. These are islands which are on the front line of the migration wave on the Middle Mediterranean route, and that is what our colleagues are most concerned about,” said Prime Minister Plenković during his visit.

Taking over the EU presidency, Malta announced that it would try to restore the trust of citizens in the European Union, and therefore focus its presidency on key issues such as migration, security and strengthening of the single market. The Maltese presidency has promised to address the fears and feelings of inequality among European citizens who increasingly believe that national solutions to the migration crisis, security challenges and economic problems are more effective than those coming from the European level, pointing out that the European Union needs a new vision and greater flexibility in order to be able to cope with major challenges.

The Maltese presidency is part of the “trio” with the Netherlands and Slovakia, and after Malta, in the second half of this year, the European Union will be presided over by Estonia.