Newly-appointed Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said on Friday that Croatia was ready for the presidency of the EU, estimating that the presidency would cost the state about €70 million.
In his first press conference since stepping into office and succeeding Marija Pejcinovic Buric ,who has been elected as the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Grlic Radman said that the ministry and media needed to be partners and underscored that he would be more open to the media.
"The public has the right to information and we wish to truly work transparently," he said.
Stating that the presidency of the Council of the EU is the ministry's "main priority", Grlic Radman said that Croatia was prepared for that role in the first half of 2020.
He said that based on previous presidencies by countries similar to Croatia in terms of economic strength, the presidency would cost Croatia around €70 million, adding that it was difficult to be more precise because some public procurement procedures were underway and some departments had requested additional co-funding from the EU.
He expects that when "Zagreb becomes the EU's capital" that will bring some profit to Croatia.
Grlic Radman said that the first priority was to ensure a timely agreement on the new multi-annual financial framework for 2021-2027.
The focus will also be on Brexit and economic objectives such as balancing economic growth, improving competitiveness and deepening the economic and monetary union.
The other priorities include demographic challenges and Europe's external and internal security, with Grlic Radman noting that "Europe is very grateful" to Croatia for stopping migrant waves.
During its chairmanship Croatia will advocate the better functioning of the Schengen Area and Eurozone, with emphasis on enlargement which includes Croatia. Zagreb will advocate the further enlargement of the Union and we will organise a summit on that topic in 2020.
"Anyone who wishes to join this club is welcome but based on merit," Grlic Radman said, reiterating that Croatia strongly supported the European integration of countries in Southeast Europe and cooperation with countries in the Eastern Partnership.