Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlic Radman on Wednesday had a brief audience with Pope Francis, and he discussed the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Richard Gallagher.
Grlic Radman and Gallagher confirmed the traditionally excellent relations between Croatia and the Holy See, based on their historical partnership and mutual understanding, as evidenced by reciprocal visits by high-ranking officials in the last two years.
Grlic Radman informed Gallagher of Croatia's coming presidency of the EU, and they also discussed Southeast Europe and Western Balkan countries as well as the status of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They agreed on the need to appoint the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible, with Grlic Radman saying that ethnic Croats had to have the right to elect their own representatives at all levels of government.
"I also conveyed our interest and said that we are awaiting with full confidence the completion of the process of canonisation of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac," said Grlic Radman.
The Croatian minister, accompanied by his family and associates, also had an audience with Pope Francis.
"He spoke nicely about Croats who have been cultivating the Croat Catholic identity throughout the centuries," said Grlic Radman.
The Holy See expressed concern about the failure to adopt a decision to launch talks with North Macedonia and Albania on the two countries' accession to the EU and supported Croatia's efforts to keep the enlargement policy in the focus of the EU's interest, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.
Grlic Radman discussed this topic also with Italy's European Affairs Minister Vincenzo Amendola. The Croatian minister warned about the importance of the May 2020 summit of EU and Western Balkan countries, which, he said, would have to send a clear and encouraging message to those countries.
The two ministers confirmed their countries' very good relations, and the Italian minister expressed his country's full support to Croatia's accession to the Schengen area of passport-free travel, the euro area and the OECD, the statement said.