Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović iToomas Hendrik Ilves (Estonija).jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Although on the opposite sides of Europe, Estonia and Croatia have a lot in common, including the experience of a totalitarian communist regime, and as border countries they understand well some of the problems Europe is currently faced with, said Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is on an official visit to Croatia.

We have a lot in common, although we are on the opposite sides of Europe. Both countries were under a strong German influence and also share the experience of a totalitarian communist regime and the experience of being border countries, Ilves said during a talk he gave at the University of Zagreb.

As a member of the EU and NATO, Croatia can serve as an example to other countries in the region which have not yet made sufficient progress in their transformation to become part of Euro-Atlantic associations and it help them on that path, he said.

Speaking of security threats the European continent is faced with, Ilves condemned the terror attacks which took place earlier today in Brussels and for which the IS terrorism group claimed responsibility, saying that this was a dark day for Europe. He warned, however, that because of terrorism one must not turn against refugees fleeing their homes for fear of terrorism.

He underscored that Europe should have foreseen the extent and complexity of the migrant crisis much earlier, expressing hope Europe would finally take matters into its own hands.

The EU must make a distinction between refugees fleeing war and economic migrants and ensure that the burden of the migrant crisis is divided among member states, he said.

In his talk, the Estonian president also commented on the other, "totalitarian" threat from the east.

Alluding to the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin,  Ilves mentioned Ukraine and "the illegal occupation" of the east of the country and the annexation of Crimea.

We must keep sanctions against Russia, Ilves said, adding that "dialogue is a good thing but it's not politics." He underscored the importance of raising the defence budget to two per cent, announcing a debate about it at a NATO summit in Varsaw in July.

Some will call me a warmonger, Ilves said, adding that there was no alternative to European liberal democracies.

Latest news

Germany's record surplus sets off debate about using extra cash

Germany's budget surplus continued to grow last year, reaching its highest level since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and setting off a debate about what to do with the extra cash.

Croatian PM says gov't has no influence on appointment of Podravka managers

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Thursday the appointment of new management board members in the Podravka food company was in the remit of the supervisory board and that neither he nor the ministers had any influence on talks at the supervisory board.

Australian archbishops call abuse probe a 'catastrophic failure'

The Australian Catholic Church's handling of a child sex abuse scandal has been a "catastrophic failure" and amounted to "criminal negligence," blasted the country's archbishops Thursday.

WHO: More than 300 million suffer from depression as world ages

The global number of people with depression has risen by 18 per cent to 322 million in the past decade, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, demanding greater attention for high-risk groups.

Ukrainian lawmaker, vocal critic of Russian government, abducted

Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Honcharenko, an adamant critic of the Russian government, has been abducted by a "group of unknown people," state media reported Thursday, quoting the Odessa regional prosecutors office.

Australian ex-PM slams Netanyahu for 'torpedoing' peace process

Former Australian premier Kevin Rudd has accused Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu of "torpedoing" peace negotiations in the Middle East.

Weekly "Novosti" dismisses NGO's accusations

The newspaper today also dismissed all accusations the NGO presented at a recent news conference, and retorted that the NGO's criticism were ill-intended and untrue accusations.

Sixteen killed in fighting between army and rebels in Congo

Sixteen fighters from the reactivated Congolese rebel movement M23 have been killed during two days of fighting with the army in the east of the country, a military spokesman said Thursday.

Maltese FM on behalf of EU calls for preservation of stability in BiH

Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella said in Sarajevo on Thursday that his country, as the current chair of the European Union, closely followed the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and other parts of the Western Balkans.

Croatia-Hungary committee on minorities meets after four-year hiatus

The Croatia-Hungary Intergovernmental Committee for the implementation of the agreement on the protection of the rights of the respective ethnic minorities met in Zagreb on Thursday after a four-year hiatus.

Syrian rebels claim full control of al-Bab, defeating IS

Syrian rebels backed by Turkey said Thursday they are fully in control of al-Bab, wresting it from Islamic State after a military campaign that began in November and cost hundreds of lives.

HURS says Croatia fails to create conditions for long-term growth

The Croatian Association of Workers' Trade Unions (HURS) warned on Thursday that a report which the European Commission released on Wednesday showed that Croatia had failed to create conditions for a long-term economic growth, adding that the situation in the Podravka food company suggested the continuation of the trend of shutting down jobs in the production sector.