miro kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Daniel KASAP / dk

Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said in Dubrovnik on Thursday at the first annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) that cooperation was needed now more than ever, adding that EU member states and countries that have not yet joined that bloc were facing common challenges.

Countries participating in the Strategy are also members of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative -- Croatia, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania, and Kovac said these countries are part of old Europe, both culturally and geographically.

"Now, more than ever before, we have a need to work together and produce results. Countries that have already joined the EU and countries on the path to the bloc are facing common challenges. We are here to offer innovative solutions to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises," Kovac told a news conference before the event opened.

Kovac underscored that Europe must have a common response to the migrant crisis.

"National responses are insufficient. Croatia has made a strong contribution on that front. Fate has decided that our Adriatic and Ionian Region is in the epicentre of the crisis. We are aware that these aren't issues that can't be solved with money. We need European solidarity. On the other hand, our citizens expects us to secure growth and employment and we must have a joint approach when dealing with all challenges," Kovac said.

Asked if concrete projects within the Strategy were discussed, such as the Peljesac Bridge project, Kovac said that the bridge on the southern Croatian peninsula of Peljesac was in the interests of all countries of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the EU.

"The Peljesac Bridge is a national project but it also fits in the project of connecting the countries members of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative," Kovac said.

European Commission for Regional Policy Corina Cretu said that countries of the Adriatic and Ionian Region must be actively involved in this framework.

This framework is very important and all countries must must be actively involved. The EU will assume the coordinating role and I see a lot of potential for encouraging growth and connections in this strategy, Cretu said.

Asked if it was true that economic differences between the countries of the Adriatic-Ionian region were big, Cretu said the Strategy provided a framework.

Croatian Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Tomislav Tolusic said that with the Strategy Croatia was getting an opportunity to develop its own potential through transnational potential.

At the forum, government representatives of the eight member states of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative adopted a declaration expressing their concern about the refugee and migrant crisis in the region and entrusting the EUSAIR Governing Board with the task of drawing up assistance plans to strengthen the resilience of the countries facing the crisis.

The document was adopted by the government representatives of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia in the presence of European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Cretu.

We express our deep concern about the course of the ongoing migration crisis in the region, which requires adequate responses at all levels, the declaration says.

The eight countries signatories undertook to improve regional cooperation by promoting well-prepared and adequate projects. The declaration stressed the need for coordinated action in the Adriatic and Ionian Region in close cooperation with the European Commission.

The declaration praised Croatia's efforts in bringing the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative to a higher level of cooperation.

Latest news

Earthquake rocks buildings in northern Zambia; no injuries reported

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Zambia and neighbouring countries early Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

China overtook US, France as Germany's top trading partner in 2016

China overtook the United States as Germany's biggest trading partner in 2016, according to data provided by the Federal Statistics Office on Friday.

Orban upset by end of Budapest 2024 bid; IOC to ponder adjustments

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday reiterated his regret about the end of his nation's Olympic dream while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could further revise future bid campaigns in the wake of Budapest's withdrawal.

Italy seizes millions from dodgy Rome businessman

Italian police on Friday seized assets worth 40 million euros (42.4 million dollars) from a Rome businessman who falsely claimed residence in Dubai to dodge taxes.

UN, HRW workers in crosshairs as Israel cites bias, Hamas membership

The United Nations on Friday rejected Israeli claims that one of its aid workers in the Palestinian Territories is a "terrorist" who belongs to the radical Islamist Hamas movement.

Consulates deny telling teachers, parents to denounce Erdogan critics

Turkish consulates in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia on Friday dismissed allegations that they instructed teachers and parents to denounce critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Source: Le Pen defied police summons in assistants' pay enquiry

Marine Le Pen failed to appear for a summons for police questioning on Wednesday, a source close to the investigations has told dpa.

Iraqi forces claim key Mosul base, enter first western district

Iraqi forces seized a major military base from Islamic State on Friday and stormed the first district in the western section of Mosul, part of their campaign to dislodge the radical group from its last key Iraqi stronghold, a senior commander said.

BASF sales down 18 per cent due to Gazprom asset swap

German chemicals giant BASF said Friday that its revenues decreased by 18 per cent, to 57.6 billion euros (60.9 billion dollars), in 2016, due mainly to a multibillion-euro asset swap with Gazprom, Russia's state-backed gas group.

New Delhi shocked at reports of Indian national dead in US shooting

India was in shock and dismay Friday at the news of the death of an Indian engineer in an alleged racially motivated killing in the United States earlier this week.

42 killed in car bombing in Syria's al-Bab, monitor says

At least 42 people are dead after a car bombing in Syria's northern city of al-Bab on Friday, a day after Turkish-backed rebels seized control of the city from the Islamic State extremist militia, a monitoring group reported.

Car bombing kills at least eight soldiers in Yemen

At least eight government soldiers died in a Friday car bombing in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, a local security official said.