Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL) Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL)

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the German delegation were welcomed in Zagreb at the presidential palace earlier today by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. Following a brief tête-à-tête, the Croatian president announced to the media that the country could not forget the important role that Germany has played as a key ally and staunch supporter of Croatia since independence.

"I am satisfied with the high level of visits between the two countries. Croatia and Germany share common European values and dedication to a strong EU that promotes stability and prosperity," said President Grabar-Kitarović. "The EU will become more secure and strengthened once Croatia enters the Schengen area and the Eurozone in the near future. In this respect, we count on Germany's support and, as you know, we are investing significant efforts in surveillance and protection of the EU's longest external border - here in Eastern Europe."

Earlier this month, the foreign ministries from both countries signed an action plan aimed at strengthening political and economic relations in ten key areas.

For his part, President Steinmeier underlined that it was not his first time in Croatia, saying he had visited the country some thirteen years ago when he was Germany's foreign minister. He and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović believe that the massive and influential Croatian community in Germany, which officially numbers close to four-hundred-thousand people, is one of the keys to maintaining positive bilateral relations.

"German and Croatian ties extend far beyond the political partnership," said Steinmeier. "The special character of our relationships is one that relates to innumerable personal relationships between the people of our states. I would like to strengthen this special relationship with Croatia in several areas." He concluded by saying that, apart from Zagreb, he would be visiting the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Also on the agenda for President Steinmeier is a meeting with parliament speaker Gordan Jandroković; as well as visits to the Wall of Pain monument at the Mirogoj Cemetery, and the Rimac Automobili electric car factory in the Zagreb suburb of Sveta Nedelja.

Source: HRT