Conte and Plenković: Italy and Croatia Have Very Strong Relations

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, December 19, 2019 – Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with prime minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte in Rome on Wednesday, saying that they were working together in the European Council on accelerating the European Union enlargement process.

“We have very strong relations” which are further intensifying, Conte told a press conference in Chigi Palace where he received Plenković on the first day of his two-day official visit to Italy.

The Italian leader said that trade between the two countries had exceeded 5 billion euro last year and that this “very positive trend” was also present this year.

Italy is Croatia’s second strongest trading partner, after Germany. In the year to September, Croatia exported 1.5 billion euro worth of goods and services to Italy, an increase of 2.6% compared with the same period in 2018. At the same time Italian exports to Croatia reached 2.7 billion euro, up 14.6%.

Italy is also the fourth largest investor in Croatia and the fourth in terms of the number of tourists visiting the country.

The two prime ministers discussed the Croatian presidency of the European Union in the first half of next year.

“This has been a conversation between two friends, two prime ministers who understand each other very well. We will be working together in the year ahead, which is very important both for Europe and for Croatia,” Plenković said.

Plenković expressed hope that during the Croatian presidency an orderly exit of the United Kingdom from the EU would be finalised and a consensus would be reached on a new multiannual EU budget.

The two prime ministers were agreed on the need to speed up EU enlargement, after France, Denmark and the Netherlands were opposed to opening membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October.

Plenković and Conte want this to happen during the Croatian presidency.

“We are trying to win over the countries that had their reservations before Croatia hosts the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb” in May, Plenković said. He added that he wants such dialogue “to become systematic” and to take place every two years “to define a realistic path towards the EU in the next decade.”

Conte noted that the Croatian presidency coincided with the Conference on the Future of the EU, saying that Italy’s priorities were to bring the European alliance closer to people, strengthen institutions and simplify EU governance.

The conference should start in 2020 and last for two years. Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President in charge of democracy and demography, will be in charge of the conference. “Now is the time to inject new strength and enthusiasm into the Union,” Plenković said.

Conte and Plenković said that the Italian minority in Croatia and the Croatian minority in Italy also contributed to the good relations between the two countries. Plenković expressed satisfaction that the Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Furio Radin, who represents the Italian minority in the Croatian legislature, was also in Rome.

The meeting took place a day before the 30th anniversary of the foundation of the Central European Initiative (CEI), a 17-member organisation whose mission has been to help the countries in the region to join the EU.

Croatia has chaired the organisation over the past year and its chairmanship will now be assumed by Italy and subsequently by Montenegro. The members are: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

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


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