In an interview for Dnevnik, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman reflected on today’s visit by president-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and discussed priorities of his term of office.
“The visit by von der Leyen went great. She showed cultivated elation. In constructive talks, she praised Croatia as a role model. She didn’t specify to which countries exactly, but she did provide food for thought,” Grlić Radman said.
In regard to her election as the EC president, Grlić Radman said that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had pushed for what the EPP had agreed on, and that was to support “Spitzenkandidat” Manfred Weber. After the proposal that socialist Frans Timmermans helm the EC, Angela Merkel realized that European issues should be resolved on the European ground, so everybody voiced their support for Ursula von der Layen, he said.
“Everybody can get a piece of the EU pie. The fact that Plenković is organizing an EPP rally on 20 November that will be attended by the EC president means a lot, as it underlines the role of the HDZ in the pro-European journey.”
As for Croatia’s candidate for the European commissioner, Grlić Radman said there’s plenty of time to choose one by 26 August.
“Based on today’s talks between von der Leyen and Plenković, I believe we could get a portfolio that would suit our interests,” Grlić Radman said.
He is convinced that Croatia will be ready to preside over the EU, but stresses there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We’re in a trio with Finland and Romania. We take over on 1 January, and then Germany takes over from us.”
“There is solidarity among the member states and the EC. We have trained 720 officials, which is a practice and a protocol we are facing for the first time,” Grlić Radman said, adding that Croatia’s priorities are aligned with von der Leyen’s “Agenda for Europe”.
Relations with neighbours
Asked about Croatia’s joining the Schengen Area, Grlić Radman said nothing could be prejudged, but highlighted that the Ministry of the Interior did an excellent job, adding that he could not speak for other member states and how they would vote on this issue.
Grlić Radman plans to re-open the dialogue with Slovenia. “The status quo cannot be maintained. Regardless of the model, there has to be a solution. I would be realistically optimistic is I said that the issue will be resolved during my term of office,” he said.
As for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Grlić Radman said that even the most complex problems can be solved if there is a will.
“We want Bosnia and Herzegovina to have a European perspective. The issue of electoral law has to be resolved. Croatia is for all three nations, to the detriment of none,” he underlined.