PM: Western Balkans will be focus of Croatia's EU presidency

PM: Western Balkans will be focus of Croatia's EU presidency Izvor: Ilustracija, N1 Hrvatska

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Tuesday attended the second day of the EU-Western Balkans summit, hosted this year by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in London.

"The main topics we discussed were the economy, connectivity, cooperation in transport, better preparation of the Southeast European countries in the process of their accession to the European Union, and issues relating to security and migration," Plenkovic said.

The summit is held as part of the Berlin Process, an initiative launched in 2014 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an effort to encourage six Western Balkan countries to continue implementing reforms necessary for European integration. The first day of the summit on Monday saw separate meetings of foreign and interior ministers of all countries involved.

"During its presidency of the EU (in the first half of 2020), Croatia wants to put the focus back on its neighbourhood, which is why this time too I announced a second summit for 2020 in the present constellation of leaders of the EU and the countries in the region," the Croatian PM said.

The main objectives of the London summit are to strengthen economic stability in Southeast Europe by improving the business environment and regional inter-connectivity, strengthen regional security, including the fight against corruption, organised crime, human trafficking, drugs and firearms, terrorism and violent extremism, and facilitate political cooperation to accelerate the resolution of bilateral issues.

Plenkovic said participants in the summit spent most of the time discussing ways to resolve certain bilateral issues that had burdened relations between the countries for a long time, mentioning specifically the agreement between Greece and Macedonia on the Macedonia name dispute.

"This is the first major meeting after that agreement. In my address I welcomed the fact that at the summit in Brussels tomorrow NATO would invite Macedonia to join it. I believe that it is a good move," said Plenkovic.

He added that the summit also tackled the issue of migration, repeating that all non-EU members were expected to "follow EU policies, protection of the external borders, strengthening of national capacities, respect for all agreements on readmission and an effective exchange of information."

"As far as Croatia is concerned, the better we solve the matter on the Greek-Turkish border, the fewer problems we will all have," said Plenkovic.

Plenkovic confirmed that on Wednesday evening he would attend the World Cup semi-final match between Croatia and England in Moscow, adding that the success of the national football team was the best possible kind of promotion for the country.

He talked about the match with his British counterpart Theresa May, and the two exchanged jerseys of their national teams.

Plenkovic is expected to later meet with representatives of the Croatian community in the UK in the Croatian Embassy.

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