Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović (R) (Photo: Twitter/@KolindaGK) Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović (R) (Photo: Twitter/@KolindaGK)

The focus of discussion was on illegal migration and security challenges. During her address President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović noted that illegal migration was not an issue that could be resolved on mainland Europe. "Migrations can be resolved and solved long term only by removing root causes and not be removing people and settling them elsewhere. "

She also noted that Croatia has the European Union’s longest external land border and has been under increased pressure as migrants make their way through the so-called Western Balkans sub-route that runs through neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina. "We will continue to defend and protect this external border of the European Union. And in this way we are protecting the territories of most of your countries as well from illegal migrations," the president said.

Speaking about the a possible economic downturn, President Grabar-Kitarović said that the possibility of achieving global growth and averting a possible economic crisis was dwindling as most economists are predicting and economic growth will slow to its lowest annual rate (2.9% in 2019 and 3% in 2020) since the financial crisis of 2008.

"In those circumstances we can expect a fall in economic activity, a loss of jobs and further impoverishment of the already vulnerable social groups," Grabar Kitarović said.

She also warned of the negative impact the escalation of cross Atlantic trade tensions as well as the threat of a no-deal Brexit and the demographic decline. "Even though there is no direct danger to Croatia's economy in that regard, even a mild no-deal Brexit will have a huge impact and slow down growth rates in Europe and we will all feel it," the president warned.

The Arraiolos 2019 in Athens follows the Arraiolos meetings in Malta in 2017 and in Latvia in 2018, both of which were attended by the Croatian President. Prior to the Malta and Riga meetings President Grabar Kitarović did not attend the group’s meetings, which started in Arraiolos, Portugal in 2003.

Source: HRT