Croatia and Poland have to strengthen ties between Central Europe's north and south on the political but also on economic front with transport connections and energy being the most important in that regard, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and her Polish host, Andrzej Duda said in Warsaw on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference after holidng talks, their fourth meeting in the past six months, the two presidents said that they had primarily discussed the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative as well as NATO and the refugee crisis.

"Instead of insisting on establishing ties between the East and West, which has been insisted during European Union enlargement, we now have to strengthen ties between Central Europe's north and south with regard to security, security threats, as well as regarding the economy, investment, doing business and also transport connections," Croatia's president said.

Road and railway infrastructure is the key to strengthening ports, she said mentioning the seaport of Rijeka but also the Ploce, Zadar and Pula ports, adding that their potential must be exploited for the transport of commodities across Europe. 

Apart from road and railway infrastructure, energy infrastructure is also conducive to political stability.

With the construction of an LNG terminal on Krk, which I hope will be in the near future, connections toward the Baltics and Poland will contribute to energy efficiency and security and competitiveness of the economy and improving living standards due to a reduction in the price of energy supplies, she said.

The president mentioned that this summer Croatia was organising the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea summit and President Duda noted that a NATO summit would be held in Poland this summer, too.

The two countries, Duda said, share the same vision of what should be the most important outcomes of the NATO summit. "They need to be related to our part of Europe and to strengthen security. I hope that NATO will show that it is a living alliance that is changing with regard to the geopolitical situation," he said.

Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatia considered that summit important because of Montenegro because "that is important for us with regard to security and consolidating the area."

With reference to refugees, President Grabar-Kitarovic once again underscored that Croatia was a transit country and we "have to persist so that within the framework of the EU, criteria are defined for the reception of migrants and to decide on hot spots that will be outside the EU."

"It is our obligation not to just talk about quotas and stir even further dissension, but to be committed to resolving the root cause, war, poverty and lack of education," she said.

The Polish president said that the the UN should begin to be involved in resolving the refugee problem and that it was necessary to enable those countries where there were refugees to offer them basic living conditions and eventually to prevent new waves of refugees.

The two presidents opened the Polish-Croatian Economic Forum with more than 120 companies from both countries attending.

The head of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Luka Burilovic said the forum was an exceptional opportunity for talks between business people from the two countries.

President Grabar-Kitarovic is expected to meet with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, Senate Speaker Stanisław Karczewski and Marshal of the Sejm (parliament) Marek Kuchcinski. 

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