Photograph: predsjednica.hr

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Friday called on trade unions, political parties and the next government to approach social dialogue with more mutual understanding and responsibility while refraining from petty politicking, and she warned that Croatia's economy could grow only if it adapted to globalisation changes.

Addressing a convention of the NHS trade union federation in Zagreb, the president said that "Croatia counts on your (trade unions) action and responsibility in efforts to accomplish our joint goal: making Croatia a state with a strong economy and content people where relations are based on confidence and understanding, a law-based state with credible protection of labour and workers."

Warning about Croatia's negative indicators regarding unemployment when compared to other European Union countries, the head of state said that all Croatians "must face the truth and we must change".

Commenting on the fact that in terms of youth unemployment, Croatia was the second worst country in the EU, she said that Croatia should not be surprised by European Commission projections that by 2019 some 200,000 Croatians will have left the country in search of a better life in developed countries.

She also warned that among EU newcomers, Croatia had the highest survey unemployment rate, which was above 15% in August. "The responsibility does not lie with the EU but with us," she said, calling for changes.

The current economic state of affairs shows that we have failed to recognise globalisation changes and thus we have failed to adjust to them, she said, explaining that new players are entering the market and changing traditional industries.

These changes are unstoppable, we can only accept them, adjust to them and adopt them and find ways to be competitive, the president said, adding that it was trade unions that could play a significant role in those processes.

She called for mutual respect between workers and employers and for overcoming partisan interests.

"An economically strong and sound state which is also flexible, and a strong economy and high employment are the right guarantees for the protection of labour rights," the president underscored.

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