miro kovač.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Mario STRMOTIĆ / mm

Croatia will closely cooperate with its neighbours and will address outstanding issues in good spirit and constructively, newly-appointed Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miro Kovac said in an interview with the HTV public television channel.

"We will closely cooperate with our neighbours, notably with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. There are a lot of unresolved issues and we will deal with them in good spirit and constructively," Kovac said.

As for Slovenia, he said that Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic had spoken on the phone with his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar on Friday, adding that he expected that the two would meet soon.

"We will start mending our relations with our neighbours. We will have to coordinate the refugee crisis to be as efficient as possible and to protect our territory," Kovac said.

Speaking of the problem of refugees, Kovac said that Croatia would allow them through for as long as other countries did the same. "As long as large EU countries accept refugees, as long as Croatia is a transit country, the situation is under control in a way. If one of the countries that accept refugees, namely Austria and Germany, decides to close its border and refuses to accept refugees at the present rate, then Croatia too will have to close its borders and protect its territory."

Kovac said that the new Croatian government was advocating "a European, civilised solution and approach" to the refugee issue.

Asked about cooperation with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic regarding foreign policy, Kovac said that they would cooperate as envisaged by the Constitution, and recalled that he had been received by the head of state on Monday to agree on modalities of their future cooperation and on regular exchanges of opinions for the purpose of coordinating foreign policy actions, as stated in a press release from the Office of the President.

Asked by the interviewer to explain his instruction to the Ministry staff not to use the term "region", the new minister explained that the "region" was a vague term and that the term "neighbourhood" should now be used as a more precise term.

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