Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said on Thursday that Croatia would like to serve as a link between European Union member states and EU aspirants, and called for better connections between member-states of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, which is currently being chaired by Croatia.
"In its capacity as the chair of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, Croatia has an ambition to serve as a link between the EU member states and those outside the Union," Kovac told reporters in Dubrovnik where the 1st Forum of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), jointly organised by the European Commission and the Croatian government is taking place on 12 and 13 May.
EUSAIR includes eight countries: four EU Member States -- Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia -- and four non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia.
Asked by the press what he expected of the Dubrovnik forum, the Croatian minister said that participants in the event wanted to make something positive for their citizens.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak said that his country took part in regional initiatives with "full engagement".
"We find our EU membership to be our main objective on the foreign affairs front and we cannot achieve this without good neighbourly relations in the region," Crnadak said.
The foreign ministers and the national authorities responsible for EU funds of the States involved, as well as the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy will be among the speakers of the conference.
EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) is a macro-regional strategy adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Council in 2014. The Strategy was jointly developed by the Commission, together with the Adriatic-Ionian Region countries and stakeholders, in order to address common challenges together. The Strategy aims at creating synergies and fostering coordination among all territories in the Adriatic-Ionian Region.