US and Croatia Discuss Global Security and Europe’s Energy Diversification

By 20 June 2018

ZAGREB, June 20, 2018 - The United States appreciates very much Croatia's contribution to global security and its efforts regarding the European Union's energy diversification, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell said after talks with senior Croatian officials in Zagreb on Wednesday.

Expressing satisfaction with the friendship and close alliance between Croatia and the USA, Mitchell said that his talks with Croatian officials focused on ways to strengthen that friendship. Conveying his country's appreciation of Croatia's contribution to international security, the U.S. official underlined Croatia's participation in the KFOR mission in Kosovo, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan and the Resolute Support mission, which continues on ISAF and which started on 1 January 2015.

Mitchell said that his talks with senior Croatian officials also addressed the issue of energy, the situation in the region and Croatia's role as the regional leader and source of stability in the Adriatic and Western Balkans.

One of the topics discussed was the LNG terminal on the island of Krk, Mitchell said, adding that his country valued the efforts of the Croatian government in contributing to the energy diversification of the European Union. He added that he was grateful to the Croatian government for the creativity it had shown in the LNG terminal project and described its approach as wise.

The U.S. official said that his country cooperated with Hungary, Croatia and other countries in the region in the field of energy diversification. We still believe that it is in Europe's long-term interest to diversify energy sources and supply routes. That is the position of both the USA and the EU, Mitchell said, adding that he would discuss the LNG terminal with officials in Brussels on June 21 and 22, after his visit to Prague, where he travels after Zagreb.

As for Agrokor, he said that the USA wanted to see an appropriate settlement that would take into account the long-term business interests and interests related to the national security of Croatia, the USA's NATO ally.

Commenting on the situation in central and eastern Europe, he said that the USA and its allies were very much involved in issues that concern the region. We are very much aware of the fact that a strategic rivalry is happening in that area. China and Russia are very active in central and eastern Europe, said Mitchell, mentioning in that context the Chinese initiative "China + 16", which brings together China and 16 central and eastern European countries, and the "One belt, one road" initiative.

He warned that China was using the so-called debt-trap diplomacy as a means of influence that could be used in the future, and that Russia was also present and exerted pressure on the energy plane. My message is that the West must take that rivalry very seriously, Mitchell said, adding that the USA, the EU and NATO had to become strongly diplomatically involved with regard to central and eastern European countries, both those in the EU and outside of it.

Commenting on his country's decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, Mitchell said that the USA was a leader in terms of contribution to humanitarian assistance but that it was worried by the fact that countries like China, Venezuela and Cuba sat on that body. We take human rights very seriously but we question the procedure for the election of members of that body and the job that body can do with such members, said Mitchell.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said that Washington has decided to withdraw from the Council because other countries lack the courage to join U.S. efforts to reform that body, but that its step does not mean the country's withdrawal from efforts concerning human rights.