Europe must reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving on its soil and there is no national solution, but this issue can be solved only by concerted action so that the European Union can prove that it is a credible global factor, the visiting Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said in Rome on Wednesday after meeting his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni.
“We must reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving in the European Union, we cannot accept all of them as we must ensure the stability of the Union and preserve its cohesion,” Kovac said at a news conference in Rome after his meeting with Gentiloni.
Kovac went on to say that Croatia was proud of how it was treating refugees and that it would continue helping them to reach their destinations, that is European countries-recipients of refugees, however, he ruled out the possibility of Croatia turning into a refugee hot spot.
Croatia will follow what its northern neighbours, Austria and Slovenia, are doing and Zagreb will act accordingly, the Croatian minister said.
Gentiloni and Kovac also discussed the state of affairs in south-east Europe and the latter thanked his host for Italy’s constructive attitude towards Bosnia and Herzegovina’s request to be given the status of EU candidate.
“Croatia and Italy should cooperate in bringing all southeast European countries closer to the European Union,” the Croatian minister said.
“If we cannot find a solution for our neighbourhood, how can we be a trustworthy factor in the global policy?” Kovac wondered.
He described Croatia-Italy relations as excellent, adding, however, that there is still room for improvement. In this context, Kovac called for “firm and stable relations with Italy.” “In creating a long-lasting friendship, our respective minorities– Croats in Italy and Italians in Croatia — can play a great role.”
Gentiloni noted that Croatia was now a part of the Balkan route for west Europe-bound migrants, while Italy was exposed to the tide of migrants from the central Mediterranean area. He went on to say that those two countries had to deal with this issue based on joint decisions and joint interests, branding each individual decision as negative or even dangerous, given that it might stir up uncontrollable reactions.
Gentiloni recalled that Italy and Croatia had a rich cultural heritage and the currently strongest bond between them were the members of their minorities.
The economic relations between the two countries are good, tourist cooperation is more than good, and over 200 Italian companies do business in Croatia, he said, concluding that even better results could be achieved and that improvement of cooperation would be on the agenda of a ministerial meeting which would be held this year.
Responding to questions from the press, Gentiloni said that one of the priorities of the European strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian initiative would be to build a motorway from Trieste to Rijeka, with an aim of turning the Adriatic coast into a hub for commodities coming from Asia.
Croatia’s Foreign Minister Kovac will wrap up his official visit to Italy by meeting with the chairman of the Italian-Croatian parliamentary friendship group, Senator Aldo Di Biagio, and Senator Pier Ferdinando Casini as well as with some other Italian parliamentarians.