Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in London on Wednesday that Croatia needed to improve the business environment for innovative companies that were relocating abroad because they could not realise their ideas in Croatia.
Grabar-Kitarovic concluded her two-day official visit by meeting with owners of IT startup companies in the Bloomberg offices.
"We obviously have a problem if we don't focus on the reasons why we are losing young talented people who are particularly investing in the innovations sector and why their ideas are not realised in Croatia but here in Great Britain or elsewhere," she told the press after the meeting.
The president said she wanted to hear from owners of startup companies, both those set up abroad and those set up in Croatia which had been relocated to Britain or elsewhere, why they had done so.
Noting that this question was primarily for the government, she stressed that she felt it was her duty and responsibility "to steer certain processes and work with the government to do as much as possible for the development of the national economy." One of the preconditions for this is certainly to improve the investment climate, she added.
Grabar-Kitarovic said she expected the new government to focus much more on vital issues such as improving the investment climate in the country, providing opportunities for young people in order to deter them from emigrating, and improving the business environment.
Summing up the impressions of her visit, the president said that British officials had shown a great interest in working with the new Croatian government and in doing business with Croatia.
"I am really encouraged and glad to see a completely new relationship, a completely different attitude and much greater interest of all British officials in Croatia, in working and doing business with Croatia and in cooperating with the Croatian government," she said.
"Perhaps Brexit was a wake-up call not to take for granted the fact that we are an EU member and that we cooperate only in Brussels, but that we should establish much closer links between us," she concluded.
In the evening, Grabar-Kitarovic left for Brussels to meet with European Union leaders as part of regular dialogue. She said she would discuss the position of Croatia in the EU, its plans and how the country could better utilise European funds, as well the co-creation of common policies. She added that special attention would be focused on relations with the neighbours and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which she described as rather worrying.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia was due to assume the EU rotating presidency in the first half of 2020, which "is a very complex task and we should start discussing it already now."
The Croatian president was also scheduled to meet with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, but their meeting was cancelled because he had been granted an audience with Pope Francis.