Who Will Represent Croatia at Migration Conference in Marrakesh?

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ZAGREB, November 11, 2018 – President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said on Saturday that the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs should send someone to Marrakesh to attend an intergovernmental conference on adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adding that this was not the first time that she couldn’t respond to an invitation and that she had cancelled her attendance at events for a variety of reasons before.

“I have estimated that in the circumstances that have emerged in the meantime and because of the theme of the conference itself, it would be better if someone else attended the migration conference, someone from departments that are directly involved in this matter, possibly the Ministry of the Interior or the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, which was in charge of the process of negotiation of this convention. Prime Minister Plenković has said that the government will discuss this and decide accordingly,” Grabar-Kitarović told reporters in Paris, where she had arrived to attend a ceremony marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

This week disputes emerged between the president and the government, notably the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, over the president’s decision to cancel her attendance at the Marrakesh migration conference. The president had confirmed her attendance to the UN secretary general in August.

Grabar-Kitarović said in Paris that the cancellation of the trip was not the first or last time that she would refuse an invitation for some reason and that during her term in office she had cancelled her attendance at many events for a variety of reasons. “My assessment at this point is that it is better for someone from the relevant department to attend, and I should emphasise once again that this migration convention is not signed and is not binding. Any country can choose that part that suits its organisation. I don’t want it in any way to be a matter of dispute either in Croatian society or in international relations,” the president said.

She noted that she had made the decision on her own and that she had considered it since August. “As you could see, I publicly spoke about it in New York because I had reservations already then and I suggested to my advisers then that in their statements they should indicate that my opinion is that we should attend at department level, but the government will decide on that,” Grabar-Kitarović said.

The main ceremony commemorating the end of the Great War will be held on Sunday and will be attended by many heads of state or government, including French President Emmanuel Macron as the host, US and Russian Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“Unfortunately, Croats also fought in the First World War, defending the Austro-Hungarian monarchy which they didn’t like. A lot of people were killed, and for us the end of the war is an event that should be celebrated. However, economic and political circumstances in Croatia didn’t improve much after the end of the First World War, and the Second World War followed. Obviously, issues had not been resolved at international level,” Grabar-Kitarović said.

The ceremony in Paris is symbolic and will unite a large part of the world in paying tribute to the war dead. It will also have a concrete dimension, primarily at the Peace Forum which has been launched by President Macron. A lot of resources and energy have been invested and it could result in good projects because people from around the world have been invited, Grabar-Kitarović said.

Also attending the ceremony will be representatives of international and non-governmental organisations, corporations, trade unions and religious groups. Introductory remarks will be made by Chancellor Merkel together with President Macron and UN Secretary General Antonio Gutteres.

Grabar-Kitarović began her visit to Paris by visiting Croatian photographer Davor Rostuhar’s exhibition at the Louvre, entitled “Croatia, Full of Colours”.

For more on the migrant crisis as it relates to Croatia, click here.


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