Croatia intends to cooperate with its neighbours and resolve the outstanding issues in a good and constructive spirit, said the new Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miro Kovač on January 26,2016, Jutarnji list reports. “With our neighbours, including both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, we will cooperate very well. There are a lot of outstanding issues which need to be solved. We will address them in a constructive spirit”, said Kovač.
As far as Slovenia is concerned, he said that the new Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković on Friday spoke by phone with Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, adding that he expected the two of them will soon meet in person. “We will try to have good relations with our neighbours, and we will have to coordinate the refugee crisis to be as efficient as possible and to protect our territory”, he noted.
Speaking about the refugee problem, Kovač said that Croatia would accept them as long as other countries were doing the same. “As long as large countries which are members of the European Union admit the refugees, as long as Croatia is just a transit country, the situation is in a way under control. However, if one of the countries receiving refugees, primarily Austria or Germany, were to decide to close its borders, not to accept refugees in numbers in which they are currently doing, then Croatia would have to close its borders and protect its territory.”
He said that the new Croatian government is committed to a European, civilized solution and a humane approach. “We will be compassionate, but it is clear that capacities of Croatia are limited, as well as capacities of neighbouring countries. Therefore, if for example our friends in Austria were to close their border, then our friends in Slovenia would do the same, and we would do the same, followed by Serbia and Macedonia.”
Asked about cooperation with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in the field of foreign policy, Kovač said that he would work with her as it is provided by the Constitution and noted that the day before he had a meeting with her. They have agreed on the procedures for cooperation between the President and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
Asked to explain a guideline sent to employees of the Ministry that they are no longer allowed to use the term “region” when talking about countries of Southeast Europe, Kovač said that region was a “vague concept” and that from now on they would use the term “neighbourhood” instead, since it was a “more precise term”.