Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić (Photo: HRT) Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić (Photo: HRT)

The chairmanship is an opportunity for Croatia to create a political and cultural brand and prepare for its upcoming turn as EU president in 2020, said Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić.

"During these six months, Croatia will be more exposed on the international scene and will try to create a clear political and cultural brand. Of course, every chairmanship is a kind of test run for the 2020 EU presidency, which is much more comprehensive and larger in scope since Croatia will have to organize around 1,400 meetings during that year,” Pejčinović Burić said.

The chairmanship comes at a time when the Council of Europe has issued a strong rebuke of Croatia over a rise in racist and hate speech, nationalism, and intolerance. The foreign minister said Croatia would work on these issues at home, but also raise them at some of the Committee meetings.

Pejčinović Burić said Croatia's priorities for its term were the fight against corruption, the protection of national minorities and vulnerable groups, decentralization, and the protection of cultural heritage.

This is the first time Croatia is presiding over the organization since it became a member in 1996.