China + 17 video-summit (Screenshot: HRT) China + 17 video-summit (Screenshot: HRT)

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković participated in the China + 17 summit via video link on Tuesday, which included Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of Central and Eastern European countries. Plenković thanked the Chinese authorities for their help in procuring protective equipment and other necessities at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that the effort saved many lives. He said that China + 17 is a unique initiative that builds bridges between Europe and Asia and is complementary to the European Union.

"The global crisis cause by the coronavirus brought unprecedented challenges, and forced us to accelerate change. We must embrace this change because it is an opportunity to better manage the digital and green transition. The pandemic showed the importance of both good governance and multi-lateral cooperation. Global cooperation helped us to contain the disease and to develop efficient vaccines and to acquire enough medical and protective equipment. In addition our common effort and solidarity will be crucial to deliver the vaccine to everyone. This is the main prerequisite to end the pandemic," Plenković said.

He added that the multilateral cooperation, which enabled the emergence of an effective vaccine and the availability of a sufficient protective equipment, will be crucial to ending the pandemic. Plenković also said that the cooperation between China and Europe will provide an opportunity for a quick and strong recovery for both sides in the coming period.

"In this regard, Croatia is particularly focused on infrastructure, science and innovation, tourism, mobility and small and medium-sized enterprises. At the same time, Croatia advocates a free market according to equal rules, reciprocity in access to markets, sustainable development and the fight against climate change," Plenković added.

He cited the EU-funded Pelješac Bridge, which is being built by a Chinese company, as an example of projects Croatia wants to focus on, as well as the NORINCO wind energy project near Sinj, China's largest clean energy investment in Croatia, which is to be completed by the end of 2021.

Plenković pointed out that after a successful agreement on the export of Croatian dairy products to China, he hopes to achieve a similar agreement for meat, fish and honey producers. He also thanked Beijing for its solidarity and help after the two earthquakes that hit Croatia in March and December.

For his part Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Croatia is actively participating in this framework of cooperation between China and other countries. He also said that the construction of the Pelješac Bridge in southern Croatia is an historic project, noting that in spite of the situation with COVID-19, the construction of the bridge has been accelerated.

During the summit China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe agreed to strengthen economic cooperation: "The prevention and control of the pandemic will probably be an important topic of cooperation for some time. In the meantime, we will pay great attention to the development of small and medium enterprises," said Zhou Xuedong, vice president of the China Development Bank.

Source: HRT