Ministarstvo vanjskih i europskih poslova RH

Press Release:

Zagreb, 24 March 2020 - State secretary chairs video-conference of European affairs ministers

State Secretary for European Affairs Andreja Metelko-Zgombić chaired a video-conference of European affairs ministers on the topic of "Enlargement and the Stabilisation and Association Process", with an emphasis on reaching a political decision to launch accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. The ministers underscored support for the continuation of the enlargement policy and reached the political decision to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, with the formal written decision to follow. This shows that even in times of crisis the EU can make strategic decisions and is paying special attention to Southeast Europe.

In her opening remarks, Metelko-Zgombić thanked the member states for their show of support and solidarity in the aftermath of the earthquake in Zagreb, which had struck us on top of COVID-19. The ministers reflected on the challenges the member states are facing in the fight against the pandemic, underlining the need for a coordinated response entailing national and EU-level measures. In addition, the ministers exchanged views on consular support in repatriating the EU citizens from third countries as well as on the importance of continued functioning of the single market and the flow of persons and goods within the EU, notably medicine and medical equipment. They highlighted the need for maintaining unity and joining efforts in dealing with this major health crisis.

Metelko-Zgombić said that the situation in Europe and the world showed that the slogan of Croatia's Council of the EU presidency was chosen well - "A Strong Europe in a World Filled with Challenges", adding that no one could had even imagined these developments. "In spite of everything, the Croatian presidency, with the help and support from all the member states, has proven just how strong a united Europe is," Metelko-Zgombić underlined.

The Croatian presidency will continue to convene informal video-conferences in various ministerial configurations until formal meetings of the Council can resume.