Grabar-Kitarović Calls for Raising Relationship with Israel to Strategic Partnership

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 30, 2019 – Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović met In Jerusalem on Tuesday with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and expressed her intention to raise relations between the two countries from a friendship to a strategic partnership.

My main interest is to raise the level of our relations from a friendship to a strategic partnership, the president said after a tete-a-tete with Netanyahu.

The two countries share common interests in security, defence and economy, she underscored.

In the context of common security threats, she assessed that it was important for the two countries to jointly care about Europe and the Mediterranean and that cooperation and the common fight against challenges such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were the most important for the security of our peoples.

Reacting to the fact that antisemitism was growing again in Europe, she said in the first half of 2020, Israel would not only have a friend at the helm of the European Union but that Croatia would work on nurturing the remembrance of the Holocaust and combating antisemitism. Grabar-Kitarović announced an exhibition in New York on Croatian Righteous among the Nations and other activities such as seminars in Croatia, Serbia, in the region and in the European Union.

Last but not least, I believe that we have to bring the attention of Europe and the USA to the situation in our respective regions, she said.

She recalled that problems turn into disputes and unfortunately they do so very quickly.

We can do a lot of good but we can also sink into chaos. As such we have to monitor what is going on around us and as far as Croatia is concerned, we will help neighbouring countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia – to come under the wing of the European Union, she underlined.

Grabar-Kitarović thanked Netanyahu for extending his condolences for Josip Briški, a Croatian soldier who was killed last week in a suicide attack in Kabul.

We had a lot of casualties in the 1990s when Croatia was the victim of aggression and war and as such, I hope that we will strengthen our cooperation in defence, security and the exchange of intelligence, as well as in many other areas such as innovation, agriculture and irrigation, she added. She congratulated Israel as a country that is a global leader in innovation.

The Croatian president announced a visit of a business delegation this year and stressed the importance of a memorandum of understanding that will be signed on Tuesday between the Port of Haifa and the Port of Rijeka.

After expressing his condolences over the death of the Croatian serviceman in Afghanistan, Netanyahu said that that event was an example of the common challenges the two countries were faced with.

Considering that Croatia will chair the Council of the EU, I think that will be an opportunity to send that message to all the peoples of Europe (…) and if it wants a bright future that is a particularly important message for Europe, he said.

He warned of the danger of radical Islam, saying that it wanted to return humanity to the darkest ages. I wanted to say to the Middle Ages, but they were progressive, he added.

According to Netanyahu, radical Islam isn’t only embodied in Daesh (ISIL) but above all in Iran as a powerful and malicious force.

I will be very clear: Israel is on the front line of the battlefield against radical Islam. If Israel was not here the Middle East would fall into the hands of radical Islam. We are defending ourselves, we are defending the Middle East and by defending the Middle East we are defending Europe, Netanyahu said.

He thanked the president for her third visit to Israel and expressed hope that her fourth visit would be to “Eretz Israel”.

I think that that is an indicator of friendship between two countries and that it reflects your stance toward Israel, he added.

He assessed that Croatia and Israel should work more on trade, which is low, and expressed hope that today’s visit would be an inspiration for a stronger boost to economic relations.

More news about relations between Croatia and Israel can be found in the Politics section.


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