Foreign Minister Outlines Priorities of Croatia's EU Presidency

By 4 September 2019

ZAGREB, September 4, 2019 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman spoke in Bled, Slovenia on Tuesday about Croatia's preparations for chairing the EU in the first half of 2020, saying Zagreb would push for the European path of Western Balkan countries.

Addressing a Bled Strategic Forum panel on the challenges facing the new European Commission, he also said Croatia strongly advocated opening EU entry talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

Taking over the EU presidency is a big challenge for Croatia, which went from suffering in the war and the military aggression to later development which prove that it can deal with different challenges and tasks, said Grlić Radman.

The EU too is faced with many external and internal challenges such as climate change, migration, cyber-attacks, terrorism, migration and fake news, he said, adding that the EU's position was increasingly complex and that Europe must prepare for and adapt to the challenges.

Former Italian prime minister Enrico Letta told the panel the main priorities the EU must address in the next five years were environmental protection and climate change. They are areas in which global leadership can be shown in relation to other global stakeholders, he said, otherwise the world could soon develop into a twofold China-US system.

As for migration, Letta said a change of discourse was necessary. Since the issue cannot be resolved under the Treaty of Lisbon and the Dublin Regulation, a solution should be sought outside the agreements, adopting concrete tools and measures to approach the problem, he added.

Former Slovenian foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel said the current EU had organisational problems and that one should therefore consider an all-European debate.

Rupel said he saw three different wings in the current EU - one comprising central and northern European states led by Germany, a second one comprising western countries with France at the helm, and a third one comprising eastern, ex-socialist countries.

He said this was a serious matter which showed the differences within the EU, with the eastern wing countries highly critical of Russia and western countries of the current US.

Former Slovenian PM Alojz Peterle underlined the issue of European identity, which he sees in common values.

Several participants in the panel underlined the need to prepare mechanisms in case of a new economic crisis and a euro area crisis.

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