The 15th international Dubrovnik Forum conference has officially started. It is a forum attended by ministers and state secretaries mainly from the countries of southern, southeastern and central Europe - where current global political and economic issues are discussed.
Plenković: Action at the European level - the only real answer to crises
The Russian aggression against Ukraine is in the foreground of the 15th Dubrovnik Forum. The participants will exchange opinions on the far-reaching consequences of the war in Ukraine, but also on the possible consequences for the Western Balkans. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković recalled that Croatia has been helping Ukraine diplomatically, politically, financially and militarily since the first day of the Russian attack.
“Croatia knows what it's like to be a victim of aggression, and that's why from the first moment, from the early morning of February 24, it expressed full solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people,” said Andrej Plenković, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia.
“It is mainly a conflict between democracies and authoritarian regimes. We must not forget that this is the essence of what we are witnessing today,” he added.
The Russian attack on Ukraine shook the international order, and the blockade of the export of Ukrainian grains caused a food crisis on the world market. Plenković predicts that the lack of food in Africa could lead to the destabilization of weak states, cause conflicts and start a new wave of migration towards the European Union.
The direct consequence of the war in Ukraine is the unprecedented increase in energy prices, and the prime minister says that Croatia's big advantage is the LNG terminal on the island of Krk.
“Krk has become an energy hub for Croatia in the supply of oil and gas. Our goal is to increase the current capacity of LNG from 2.9 billion cubic meters to 6.2 billion, while Croatia's total needs are around 2.8 billion. With this capacity, we could provide energy security to our neighbors, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Austria and others,” said Plenković.
Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that now is the opportunity to free Europe from dependence on Russian energy sources. He announced that Parliament will confirm the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO next week.
“We supported the Government in its decision to provide humanitarian and technical assistance, especially in accepting refugees. Based on our own experience from the 90s in the creation and defense of the state, we expressed a high level of understanding and solidarity with Ukraine. But it was not only Croatia that reacted promptly and stood in defense of Ukraine. By attacking Ukraine, Russia attacked European values and threatened world peace. Most European countries recognize the sacrifice of Ukrainians and help them in various ways. Our main advantage over Russia is unity and solidarity, which should be preserved and strengthened. Despite this, we are anxiously following the development of the situation and the possibility of the war spilling over beyond the borders of Ukraine. The change that has been initiated has irreversibly altered international security, political and economic relations and institutions as we know them,” said Gordan Jandroković, the Croatian Parliament Speaker.
“What will happen in the future, no one can predict with certainty. The EU reacted surprisingly quickly, and I particularly highlight the decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and the opening of a European perspective to Georgia. The need to strengthen the defense capabilities of the EU based on a common understanding of the challenges faced by the member states was additionally made aware. And the Secretary General of NATO described the recent summit in Madrid as transformative. The historic invitation to Finland and Sweden to join NATO led to structural changes in the policy of deterrence and defense in Europe. All this leads to a change in the geopolitical map of the world as we knew it,” added Jandroković.
A series of bilateral meetings
On the margins of the Forum in Dubrovnik, Prime Minister Plenković met with Miroslav Lajčak, the EU's special representative for dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and the vice-president of the European Investment Bank, Teresa Czerwinska, as well as with the British special envoy for the Western Balkans, Stuart Peach.
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