ZAGREB, May 29, 2018 – Bilateral relations, further promotion of cooperation and new transport connections dominated the talks held on Tuesday by the Croatian and Italian presidents, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Sergio Mattarella respectively, in Rome.
Grabar-Kitarović, who is on a two-day official visit to Italy, touched on the current political crisis in that country during the meeting with her Italian counterpart. Addressing Croatian reporters, Grabar-Kitarović said that Mattarella was optimistic and hoped for the best outcome.
The two presidents did not hold a joint press conference because that is not envisaged by Italy’s presidential protocol.
Grabar-Kitarović said that bilateral relations were excellent and without any outstanding issues. Nevertheless, she underscored that there was always room to advance cooperation even though Italy is Croatia’s second largest trade partner, the third largest investor in Croatia and ranks fourth when it comes to the number of tourists visiting Croatia. “We want to further advance our cooperation and we discussed possible areas of cooperation, from the IT industry to infrastructure, construction, agriculture, food industry, textile industry, etc.”
The president especially underlined possible cooperation in the transport system and in connecting Adriatic ports. “There is an informal association of northern Adriatic ports. As regards transport through the Suez Canal, I see huge potential in cooperation with the Slovenian port of Koper in relation to north Atlantic ports. I think that we could profit from that,” she said, adding that emphasis had to be both on passenger and freight transport.
Both Croatia and Italy want new ferry services, Grabar-Kitarović said, announcing that new catamaran lines would be introduced between the two countries soon. She believes that they will result in more Italian tourists vacationing on Croatia’s coast. The lines should be operational by the end of this month.
The president added that the talks with her Italian counterpart also focused on regional issues, particularly Southeast Europe, joint support to the European Union, joint challenges such as migration, etc.
One of the topics discussed were minorities, Grabar-Kitarović said and added that she would visit the Croat minority in Molise tomorrow. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Croats to that region. “We welcome Italy’s recent efforts to recognise the Croat language minority in accordance with its constitution and laws, not just in Molise but in other Italian regions where they live,” she underscored.