President Discusses Cooperation with Macedonia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, April 26, 2018 – The objective is for Croatia to become one of Macedonia’s five biggest economic partners, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said in Skopje on Thursday, after talks with Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović who reiterated Zagreb’s support for Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

Grabar-Kitarović and Ivanov agreed that the two countries’ relations are friendly without outstanding issues so a large part of their meeting focused on the strengthening of economic cooperation and Macedonia’s aspirations to join NATO and the EU.

Croatia-Macedonia trade in 2017 totalled 185.8 million euro, or 3.8% less than in 2016. Since 2012, Croatia has recorded a surplus in trade with Macedonia, with last year’s surplus amounting to 44,5 million kuna, associates of the Croatian president said.

“I am confident there is unused potential for stronger economic cooperation between the two countries,” Ivanov told a joint press conference with Grabar-Kitarović. “The two countries’ objective is for Croatia to become one of Macedonia’s five biggest trading partners,” he added.

Grabar-Kitarović underscored that many Croatian companies were already doing business in Macedonia and that during her two-day visit she would hold talks with Macedonian officials about possibilities of increasing investments. “I am confident there is room for further investment and expansion of trade not only in the food industry but also in the high-tech sector and the construction industry. Croatian companies are interested in taking part in the reconstruction of Macedonian roads and railways, in military and defence cooperation, military technology etc,” Grabar-Kitarović said.

She underscored that Croatia’s Labour and Pension System Ministry was interested in signing an agreement on seasonal employment with Macedonia, adding that there was potential for a joint presentation of Croatian and Macedonian companies on third markets.

Ivanov said he appreciated Croatia’s support for the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Macedonia, whose journey is blocked by Greece because of the two countries’ dispute over Macedonia’s name. He said that the case of Croatia and Slovenia showed that bilateral disputes should not be an obstacle to memberships of NATO and the EU.

Later on Thursday, Slovenian President Borut Pahor is expected to join Ivanov and Grabar-Kitarović at a meeting of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, which will also be attended by European Council President Donald Tusk and Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov.

Also announced, but not yet confirmed, are the arrivals of the leaders of other Southeast European countries, including Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

The Brdo-Brijuni process was launched in 2013 by Slovenia and Croatia in order to further stabilise the situation in Southeast Europe through regional cooperation and solving outstanding issues.

Ivanov said that the Brdo-Brijuni Process was a strong confirmation of Croatia and Slovenia’s commitment to the region.

Grabar-Kitarović welcomed the European Commission’s renewed focus on Southeast Europe, stronger involvement and the realisation that the EU enlargement process must continue. A summit will be held in Sofia in May to discuss the EU integration of Southeast European countries.

Speaking of NATO membership, Grabar-Kitarović said she was confident that the Croatian embassy in Skopje, which is the so-called contact point between NATO and Macedonia, would help accelerate Macedonia’s path to membership and that following a solution to the dispute with Greece an invitation would automatically be sent to Skopje.

The Croatian president is also scheduled to meet Macedonian Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Thursday. She is also due to meet representatives of the Croat community in Macedonia.

On Friday, the president is expected to meet Croatian business people and representatives of the Croatian companies in Macedonia, as well as Croatian police officers, members of the 51st Contingent of the mobile unit for monitoring the state border who have been helping their Macedonian colleagues in preventing illegal migrations since December 2015.


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