(Photo: HRT) (Photo: HRT)

Following the meeting, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said the dialogue between the three countries would continue, adding that the countries supported strengthening cooperation between the three northern Adriatic ports, Trieste, Koper and Rijeka, and coordinated action on better transport connections and intermodal transport.

Slovenian Minister Anže Logar called the agreement and the signed statement a "great diplomatic success" for all three countries and an expression of readiness for cooperation.

“We are looking to the future with great optimism,” Logar said at a joint press conference.

The signing of the joint statement came after several ministerial and lower level meetings between the three countries and after Croatia and Slovenia announced the declaration of their exclusive economic zones (IGPs) last year. Italy is still in the process of making its announcement.

“When it comes to the sea, that is, the so-called blue economy, we welcome Slovenia's interest in joining the regional "Adriatica" Group, cooperation in drafting a proposal for a new multi-year plan for small blue fish in the Adriatic. We hope to add onto the successful model of limited fishing in the Jabuka Basin in the southern Adriatic, said the Croatian minister.

Radman aslo said he wanted to thank Slovenia and Italy for their selfless assistance to Croatia after the devastating earthquakes in Zagreb and Banovina in 2020. He said the pandemic was still the biggest challenge Croatia, Slovenia and Italy were successfully cooperating to overcome, adding that Croatia was committed to the safety and health of tourists and tourism workers.

The alleged "non-paper" on changing borders in the Balkans and dividing BiH was not a topic of discussion, but ministers could not avoid journalistic questions about the future of the Western Balkans.