Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman on 23 March 2020 participated in a video-conference of the EU foreign ministers.
The main topic was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, with emphasis on the foreign-policy aspect, notably: 1) consular assistance in repatriation of the EU citizens from third countries; 2) international cooperation and assistance to countries affected by the pandemic, such as Iran, Venezuela and Africa; 3) public diplomacy and strategic communication; 4) geopolitical and geoeconomic effects of the crisis on the Union's interests and political objectives.
The ministers underlined the importance of a common response and solution to returning the EU citizens to their homes, where Croatia plays a prominent role as the chair of the Consular Affairs Task Force. They stressed it was crucial to exchange information and pool resources in the field, notably in regard to cooperation and coordination in third countries. Some EU member states do have diplomatic representations there, while some don't, which is why it is vital to cooperate and coordinate the efforts.
Grlić Radman said that Croatia had activated the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) mechanism and underscored the need for a more efficient coordination of consular cooperation in these extraordinary circumstances. In addition, he called for assisting the countries in need, emphasizing the importance of the EU's support and cooperation with Southeast European countries in better dealing with the pandemic, which is a priority.
The ministers discussed the importance of ensuring the flow of persons and goods within the EU, as well as the importance of meeting the need for medicine and medical equipment. They highlighted the role of international cooperation and assisting the countries in need, notably Iran, Venezuela and Africa. Moreover, they discussed the importance of strategic communication with the EU citizens and the international public, as well as responding to disinformation campaigns.
Additionally, the ministers reflected on several topical issues, with emphasis on Syria and migratory pressure, as well as continuing the dialogue with Turkey on the matter. They reviewed the progress of launching a new military operation in the Mediterranean.
Grlić Radman informed his counterparts about the aftermath of Zagreb earthquakes, underscoring gratitude for all the support. The EU member states and institutions expressed solidarity with Croatia and offered concrete assistance.
The Croatian Government is currently in the process of reaching a decision on the modes of sending financial support for Croatia from abroad.