kolinda grabar kitarović.jpg
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Photograph: HINA / Denis CERIĆ / POOL / mm

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in a lecture at the end of her three-day official visit to Poland on Friday that "natural allies" in Europe should restore their historical ties and strengthen their cooperation.

"Central Europe is facing common economic, geopolitical and security challenges," Grabar-Kitarovic said, stressing the importance of cooperation between Poland in the north and Croatia in the south and other countries concerned.

Noting that some of those countries were sceptical about her Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea Initiative, which Polish President Andrzej Duda refers to as the ABC Initiative, Grabar-Kitarovic said that the initiative indeed was the ABC of cooperation between Central European countries and expressed hope that "the countries that are sceptical today will accept the initiative and join in."

In her lecture entitled "Croatia's Role in Consolidating Central European Resilience in a Turbulent World", Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia was preparing to organise a summit of this initiative in the summer and would invite 12 countries that might be included.

She noted that this was not a new organisation, but that the purpose of her initiative was to launch specific actions that would lead to specific projects, such as linking of ports by a modern railway line that would promote transport development or construction of an LNG terminal that would help strengthen energy independence and security.

Speaking of Russia, Grabar-Kitarovic recommended caution, saying that they should not antagonise the situation because "if you treat someone as an enemy, they will soon become one."

"We should be firm in our positions to protect international law but we should also find a way to cooperate with Russia. Cooperation with Russia in Syria is necessary," she added.

As for EU enlargement, Grabar-Kitarovic said that Europe was now tired of enlargement and membership aspirants were tired of reforms because they felt they were not producing results. "That's why it is of utmost importance that Montenegro join NATO this year because that will send a strong message that the door remains open."

Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia would support Serbia on its EU path, and as for Serbia's relationship with Russia, she said that it is legitimate for any country to cooperate with Russia and that Serbia's decision not to join NATO is also legitimate.

Speaking of the refugee crisis, Grabar-Kitarovic reiterated that she was against imposing quotas, saying that it was just a waste of time and that the crisis should be dealt with at its root. She said that it was necessary to step up diplomatic efforts, stop the war and provide development aid.

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