French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the most important European politicians, will pay a working visit to Croatia, the Jutarnji List daily reports in its Sunday issue.
Even though the exact date of the visit has still not been agreed, it is expected to happen sometime in October or November, a high source at the Foreign Ministry has told the daily.
The visit is seen by Zagreb as proof of increasingly strong ties between France and Croatia, which could be described as a strategic partnership, particularly since the Croatian Air Force decided to buy French-made Rafale combat jet, the daily says.
A close associate to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic has said that Croatian-French relations have been increasingly good, even though that was not so at the beginning.
“In the early 1990s, the then French President Francois Mitterrand supported the Serb side in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia but Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Alain Juppe pursued a more balanced policy. We now have very good bilateral relations, partly also owing to the close relationship between PM Plenković and President Macron,” the associate said.
“The visit is expected to help deepen the economic cooperation between France and Croatia and the talks will also definitely focus on the EU’s strategic policy. France is not very much in favour of EU enlargement but it has slightly modified its position, thanks to PM Plenković’s engagement, and now it supports in principle the accession of Western Balkan countries, naturally, within a reasonable time,” the official said.
PM Plenkovic said earlier this week that “security-wise, the purchase of (French) military aircraft strategically changes the way Croatia is perceived as it is about to significantly change its status in military terms.” France is leading the process of strengthening European defence, in which, judging by Plenkovic’s statements, Croatia will be given an important role, Jutarnji List says.