PM: Coronavirus has disrupted EU presidency but maximum has been achieved

Autor:

29.06.2020.

Zagreb, 290620.
Nacionalna sveucilisna knjiznica.
Predsjednik Vlade Andrej Plenkovic sastao se sa sefovima stranih diplomatskih predstavnistva akreditiranim u Republici Hrvatskoj.
Na fotografiji: Andrej Plenkovic.
Foto: Damir Krajac / CROPIX
Damir Krajac / CROPIX

PM Andrej Plenkovic

Croatia's first EU presidency, which ends on Wednesday, did not go as planned due to the coronavirus but everything that was possible was achieved in such circumstances, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday at a meeting with the chiefs of foreign diplomatic offices.

"When we started, we wanted to send a message about a strong Europe in a world full of challenges. Nobody knew that one of the challenges would be COVID-19, which didn't change only the Croatian presidency but the world, Europe, Croatia and many countries around the world," he said.

"We started following the situation in China on January 8 already, notably in Wuhan. That enabled us to respond to the crisis at the European level already on January 28," he said, adding that "a great job has been done in managing the crisis."

Plenkovic regretted that the novel coronavirus prevented the Croatian presidency from bringing the EU closer to citizens through various events, which is what other member states did during their presidency, saying those events were replaced by video conferences and conference calls.

He said the presidency started well with the arrival of European officials in Croatia and visits to several European capitals.

An orderly Brexit was ensured, a consensus was reached within the European Council on a mandate for future negotiations with the UK, and focus was put on the European perspective of the Western Balkan states, which was crowned with the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and the Zagreb summit on enlargement, said Plenkovic.

A summit was also organised with the Eastern Partnership and an agreement was reached on the Conference on the Future of Europe, which "is needed more than ever," he added.

He said a new round of negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework was approaching, as well as on a European recovery plan. The EU must show through both instruments "that it stands by its member states and citizens and that it can act quickly and effectively," he added.

Plenkovic said Croatia had achieved progress in two issues not related to the presidency, drawing closer to euro and Schengen area membership.

He thanked the foreign diplomats for understanding the sudden challenges which befell Croatia during its EU presidency and for their solidarity after the Zagreb earthquake in March.

Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman said the slogan of the Croatian presidency, Europe in a world full of challenges, could not have been more appropriate, and that the coronavirus had shown that multilateralism was needed more than ever and that international solidarity was fragile.

In that crisis Croatia has again proved to be a responsible and reliable partner, he said, thanking the foreign diplomats for their support.  "You were with us the whole time and we felt your support."

On July 1, the rotating EU presidency will be taken over by Germany.