President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic held a press conference on Saturday to mark four years in office as the President of Croatia. She said that throghout the term she strongly protected and promoted national interests through foreign, defence, security and domestic policies and by proposing economic measures.
Speaking of foreign policy, Grabar-Kitarovic said she had worked on Croatia's better positioning in the European Union (EU) and NATO, mentioning her meetings with Chinese President Xi, US President Trump, Russian President Putin, German Chancellor Merkel and others.
She singled out the Three Seas Initiative as particularly important and successful. She said that this initiative had the potential to transform 12 EU member states and that Croatia could advance more quickly as part of the initiative. "Croatia will thus contribute to the EU's energy independence as an energy hub in the south of central Europe. The main objective of the initiative is to ensure higher living standards and a better life for all our citizens."
Grabar-Kitarovic said she remained determined to support the Croats in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina in their efforts to exercise their rights as one of the constituent ethnic groups in that country.
The President put a special emphasis on the defence and national security of Croatia, recalling that she had called for increasing the defence budget.
"It is good to be a NATO member, but we ourselves are responsible for our own security. Defence allocations are not costs. Croatia is not defended only on its own borders, but elsewhere as well," the president said.
"Although I don't have executive powers for economic and demographic policies, it is my duty to protect and promote national interests. I have the right to propose measures and I am exercising that right," she said.
Grabar-Kitarovic noted that during her term in office she had steered the public debate towards resolving vital issues. "I am glad that issues such as demography have become the focus of interest," she said, adding that she was glad about the number of births in Croatia last year and slowing down the emigration wave.
The president called for an effective solution to the problem of people with frozen bank accounts. She said that the tax reform had produced some positive results, but added that it was necessary to ensure greater investment by foreign and domestic companies, as well as higher wages and living standards.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that from the very start of her term she had supported the education reform, highlighting the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas and dual education.
Speaking of her practice of relocating her office to different parts of the country, the president said that she had visited all towns and counties. "Everywhere I felt strong patriotism based on the faith in Croatia and its abilities. I firmly believe that Croatia can do better," she concluded.