Croatian President Visits Portugal

By 11 May 2018

ZAGREB, May 11, 2018 - The visiting Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and her Portuguese counterpart, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, met in Lisbon on Friday for the talks on deepening economic and education cooperation between the two countries.

"I believe that this visit will mean a new step in our relations. In the past 25 years, there has never been any outstanding issues between Portugal and Croatia," Grabar-Kitarović said after the meeting. "We recall that Croatia's international recognition came just as Portugal was chairing the EU," she added.

Interest in strengthening economic cooperation with Portugal was enhanced when Croatia joined the European Union in the summer of 2013.

Grabar-Kitarović is currently on a two-day return state visit to Portugal after President Rebelo de Sousa conducted a state visit to Croatia in May 2017.

The governments of the two countries have signed an agreement in the area of language, education, science, culture, sports and youth for the period 2018 to 2020. "That agreement represents a bridge toward the future," Rebelo de Sousa said.

"We share European values. Relations are excellent. There haven’t been any problems in the past 25 years. We believe in the values of togetherness, human solidarity and development," the Portuguese head of state added.

The two presidents discussed current challenges facing the European Union and expressed their joint positions. "Our two countries are located on the opposite sides of the European Union but are working toward the aim of EU integration, its stronger cohesion and further democratisation of processes and drawing closer to the EU and our governments toward citizens. That is the only way we can fight against growing populism and other tendencies that we can see today in the EU which erode European values," the Croatian leader said.

She announced Croatia's priorities when Zagreb takes the chair of the European Union in the first half of 2020. "When it comes to financing and European funds, Croatia advocates retaining traditional funds like the agriculture and cohesion funds which enable our countries to attain equal development. The final aim has to be to erase the borders that can still be seen in Europe through the standard of living, economic development and infrastructure development, particularly in those countries that did not enjoy democracy and market economies," she said.

Other priorities include economic growth and employment, particularly of young people, transport connectivity, energy and security and EU enlargement. "We will continue the practice of conducting summits of Western Balkan countries so that we can ensure their progress on the pathway to EU membership," she added.

A Portuguese-Croatian economic forum was organised on Friday and the president believes that it will create more room for new cooperation from shipbuilding to high technology. Portugal is one of the few countries with which Croatia has a trade surplus and exports more to Portugal than it imports from it.

Grabar-Kitarović also met with Prime Minister Antonio Luis Santos da Costa and Parliament Speaker Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues.

The president will conclude Friday's visits with a meeting with Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina and members of the City Assembly. On Saturday, the president will conduct a pilgrimage to Fatima.

President Grabar-Kitarović's state visit to Portugal began on Friday with a welcome ceremony in Lisbon's main square, the site where once large sail boats embarked on their voyages to the "new world." Several hundred citizens stood by and watched the hand-shaking ceremony between the two presidents.

Grabar-Kitarović laid a wreath in the cathedral at the grave of Luis de Camoes, who is considered to be Portugal's greatest poet.