ZAGREB, May 29, 2019 – Europe has a lot to learn from China, Spanish Foreign Minister Joseph Borrell said in Zagreb on Wednesday after the talks with his Croatian counterpart Marija Pejčinović Burić which also revolved around the construction of Pelješac Bridge.
“I want to emphasise the importance Spain dedicates to relations with Croatia and the wish for them to grow,” said Borrell, who is a member of the Socialist government in Spain and although born in Catalonia he is one of the most ardent opponents to that province’s independence.
Whether it is coincidental, but Borrell’s visit comes after a recent visit by Catalonia’s Foreign Minister Alfred Bosch. The Catalan government has a representation office in Zagreb that covers Southeast Europe.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting with his host Pejčinović Burić, Borrell said that they had discussed bilateral topics like strengthening economic cooperation, the future of the European Union in the context of Brexit and the new multi-annual financial perspective as well as Croatia’s priorities during its chairmanship of the Union at the beginning of next year, such as enlargement to Southeast Europe.
Borrell said that Croatia has Spain’s support to join the OECD, Schengen Area and eurozone and concluded that Zagreb and Madrid need to work on strengthening the mutual interests of citizens in both countries.
Borrell underscored that the talks also focused on relations that the EU and Croatia have with China and the Pelješac bridge that is being constructed near Dubrovnik.
China is a big player and is more and more present in Europe. We have a lot to learn from that country and we are interested in its economic and political activity in east Europe, he said and added that this visit was a good opportunity to become familiar with numerous economic and political activities between Beijing and Europe.
Pejčinović Burić underlined that Croatia and Spain nurture “traditionally good and friendly relations,” with cultural and historical affiliation with the same “Euro-Mediterranean circle of countries” and membership of the EU and NATO alliance.
“We nurture common values and mutually support each other on many European and global issues,” she concluded.
Trade between Croatia and Spain is on the rise. Two years ago, it amounted to 673 million euro and last year grew to 741 million euro. The number of Spanish tourists visiting Croatia is also growing. Last year, 290,000 Spaniards visited Croatia and Pejčinović Burić said that that was thanks to “good air connectivity,” between the two countries.
This is the first visit by a Spanish minister to Croatia in the past 14 years. Borrell is expected to meet with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković.
More news on relations between Croatia and Spain can be found in the Politics section.