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Photograph: HINA / Mario STRMOTIĆ / mm

Participants in the 14th conference of parliament speakers of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative in Split on Saturday did not discuss only a European response to the migrant crisis, but also the added value of parliamentary cooperation within the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), calling for stepping up activities which would improve their visibility and responsibility.

They said citizens should be actively involved in the implementation of EUSAIR and that members of parliament and their representatives should intermediate between citizens and governments. They said the Adriatic and Ionian Region had a big potential for cooperation in all areas significant for well-being and economic growth.

Adriatic-Ionian Initiative secretary-general Fabio Pigliapoca recalled that EUSAIR's first annual forum would be held in Dubrovnik in May, organised by the Croatian government and the European Commission. He said it would be a historic moment and an exceptional opportunity for talks on how macroeconomic projects could be implemented.

The ministers of the eight participating states will discuss migrations as well as cooperation within the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, he said, adding that after today's meeting in Split, a new era of cooperation was born.

Croatian member of the European Parliament Ivana Maletic said the Adriatic and Ionian Region was characterised by "big inequalities, from economic to social ones, but that can also be an advantage because by mixing highly developed regions with the lowest developed regions which have a big growth potential, the whole macroregion can develop well. What such macroregions and strategies lack are concrete sources of financing."

She said the European budget did not envisage funds for macroregions and that each state must set aside funds for them, which was not easy. She said implementation structures and clear action plans were also lacking.

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