An important first meeting in Berlin for Croatia’s new Foreign Minister.
Europe must act together to solve the refugee and migrant crisis, it was concluded after a meeting of German and Croatian foreign ministers, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Miro Kovač, in Berlin on Monday. “This is not a situation in which everyone can work on their own. We are all called to work together for the future of Europe”, said Steinmeier after the meeting, reports Index.hr on February 8, 2016.
Steinmeier pointed out the article which Kovač wrote for today’s edition of Berlin’s Tagesspiegel, in which the Croatian Minister reflected on the current migrant crisis and advocated for a common European strategy. Steinemeier said that he was aware that the European Union was still far from a common position in this regard, but added that during the meeting of the EU foreign ministers last weekend in Amsterdam “the atmosphere has significantly changed”.
“The atmosphere in Amsterdam was quite different. There were still disagreements on some issues, such as the distribution of refugees, but in many other areas there was a common European approach”, said the German minister. “The disintegration of Europe cannot be an option for two European-oriented countries such as Croatia and Germany”, said Steinmeier, while once again stressing that the number of refugees coming to Europe in 2016 must be “significantly reduced”.
A series of measures is being introduced, with a focus on the increased involvement of Turkey in the solution and further intensive efforts to achieve peace in Syria. “But, at the same time, we have to work intensively on the protection of the external borders of the European Union, and the countries which are under the greatest pressure will be helped financially and logistically”, said Steinmeier.
At the beginning of the press conference, Steinemeier said that today he welcomed “an old friend”, alluding to the days which Kovač spent as the Croatian Ambassador in Berlin, where, as Steinemeier said, “he perfectly represented his country”.
Miro Kovač thanked Steinmeier for the hospitality and pointed out the good relations between the two countries. “Germany is for us a very important strategic partner, with which we want to cooperate at all levels”, said Kovač. “We have agreed that bilateral cooperation is good, but we also think it can be even better. We should cooperate more in the economic field and therefore I have invited Mr. Steinmeier to come to Croatia in the second half of this year to attend a Croatian-German economic forum”, said the Croatian Foreign Minister.
“We want good relations with all our neighbours. Croatia will actively support the bid of Bosnia and Herzegovina for EU membership”, said Kovač. He added that it was “a process that will last long”, but it is very important. “We will support the enlargement, but we will look for the fulfilment of the criteria. We will be strict but fair, and that is in the interest of not only Croatia, but also Germany and the entire European Union”, said Kovač.
Croatian Foreign Minister added that with regard to the migrant crisis Croatia had excellent cooperation with Austria, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia, and paid tribute to Germany because of the way it has faced the migration crisis. However, Kovač added that “the time will come when it will be necessary to reduce the number of refugees”.
“Croatia will give its contribution to a common European solution. Everyone in the EU has the right to their own individuality, but we do need to have an awareness that together we can be stronger”, concluded Kovač.