Civil society organisations criticised the government on Thursday for insufficiently highlighting in the priorities of Croatia's EU presidency the rule of law and the state of human rights, which they consider to be a burning issue in the European Union.
Organisations within the Forum 2020 also regret that the government did not consult either civil society or parliament, which they say is customary European and democratic practice.
Despite the justice minister's announcements that more emphasis would be placed on the rule of law, this priority has been redefined and not highlighted, they said in a press release.
"We hope Croatia will preside in a European and democratic fashion, and include in the presidency civil society organisations, the Croatian parliament and other democratic stakeholders."
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Wednesday presented four key priorities of Croatia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2020.
Regarding the "A Europe that grows" priority, the Forum 2020 said it should not be set without stating the kind of growth and at whose expense Europe wanted to grow.
They further said that discussing migration and refugees under the slogan "A Europe that protects" was not the most fortunate solution as it could have negative connotations and strengthen antidemocratic forces in the EU.
The Forum 2020 welcomes the government's decision to focus on enlargement to the Western Balkans and expects it to commit to reaching a political consensus at the Council of the EU level on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.
"That is of crucial importance for democracy, the rule of law and development not only in those countries but the whole region. That is a clear common interest of both civil society and the government and, we hope, all the EU," the press release said.