6 February 2019 (Office of the President) – The President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos is on a two-day State Visit to the Republic of Croatia upon the invitation of the President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
The State Visit of the President of the Hellenic Republic commenced with an official welcoming ceremony at the Office of the President, a tête-à-tête between the two Presidents and a bilateral meeting between the official delegations of the Republic of Croatia and the Hellenic Republic.
Greece will always be on the side of Croatia, as was the case during its accession to the European Union and NATO, but it will also support Croatia’s entry to the Schengen Area and the Eurozone, the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos said after meeting with President Grabar-Kitarović.
President Grabar-Kitarović remarked that “Croatia is investing great efforts to protect the external borders of the EU, and when it joins the Schengen Area it will do this even more effectively and thus significantly contribute to overall EU security.”
She added that Croatia greatly appreciates the role of Hellenic Republic in managing the migrant crisis as Europe’s first gatekeeper. “The Western Balkan route remains closed, but we call for constant vigilance as pressure from migrants on this route continues,” the Croatian President warned while highlighting the need to continue addressing the root causes of migration.
The President of the Hellenic Republic expressed hope that 2020 will be a key year for Croatia’s accession to the Eurozone – the year in which Croatia will be presiding over the EU Council. “We are here to help the governments of our countries decide on this. We are committed to establishing better economic and other forms of cooperation between our States,” said President Pavlopoulos.
On the issue of economic cooperation between the two countries, President Grabar-Kitarović said it was rather modest in the area of trade and investments. “Investments are quite small. Croatia’s investments in Greece are virtually non-existent, and Greece is unfortunately not on the list of the 40 largest investors in Croatia,” the Croatian President said.
President Grabar-Kitarović sees opportunities for strengthening cooperation in the areas of tourism, maritime and land transport, introduction and expansion of direct airline links between Croatian and Greek cities and in numerous other fields.
She recalled that Croatia is a signatory of the Memorandum of Understanding between Albania, Croatia and Montenegro on the realization of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) that will be connected with the gas pipeline now under construction in Greece. The two leaders also support the completion of the Ionian-Adriatic transport route, which will connect the two seas and Croatian and Greek ports.
President Pavlopoulos stated that “due to the visions of their fathers” they are obliged to support the further unification of Europe and along with Romania and Bulgaria to develop the “southeastern cornerstone of the EU.” He emphasized that all neighbouring States must join the European Union, because “the larger it is, the better it is for its own sake and for the entire world,” but that preconditions such as the rule of law and accepting the European acquis should be fulfilled.”
He touched upon the issue of Northern Macedonia, a State that received a new name after the Greek and Macedonian Parliaments adopted the historical agreement on the new name, putting an end to a conflict that lasted 27 years and hindered this State on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
“We Greeks are here to help it on its path to NATO and the EU, and also to convince it that without respecting rights and eradicating every form of irredentism, it cannot advance on this path,” stated the President of the Hellenic Republic, adding that the same goes for Albania.
He underlined that the European Union must develop on a federal principle and that it is a Union of peoples, but with a planetary role that other powers in the world should also have, but do not exercise. “There is no other power in the world that can better commit to peace, humanism, democracy and the law.”
“We must defend our peoples and all of humanity in the sensitive period we are going through,” commented the Greek President on the period preceding European elections in which a rise of populist parties is expected.
“The skeletons of the past are reappearing, we must take measures so as to resist these threats. Europe was built on the ravages of the Second World War and we must fight to prevent something like this from ever occurring again”, he warned.
President Pavlopoulos announced that his next meeting with President Grabar-Kitarović will be in October this year, just before the Presidential elections in the country, which will be an opportunity to continue discussions on a number of themes.
The Croatian President touched upon the great historical bonds between the two countries. The Aegean and Adriatic Seas have connected us for millennia. “Traces of ancient Greek culture can be found in Dalmatia and on several Croatian islands, including the island of Lošinj in the northern Adriatic where there is one of the most beautiful and best preserved sculptures of Apoxiomen,” President Grabar-Kitarović reminded.
She highlighted that many Croats of Greek origin have left a strong mark in Croatia. One is the dramatist Dimitrije Demeter, “son of Greek parents and a Croatian patriot, who was pivotal in the creation of the modern Croatian National Theatre in the 19th century.” Another such individual is Boris Papandopulo, the “son of a Greek father and Croatian mother, and one of our most famous composers and conductors of the 20th century.”