(Photo: Annegret Hilse,Reuters) (Photo: Annegret Hilse,Reuters)

Chancellor Merkel said Croatia's mandate at the head of the Council of the European Union was extremely important and that they were heavily invested in Croatia's success since Germany would be assuming the role immediately afterwards.

"Today we discussed our bilateral relations, which are very good. Three million vacationers from Germany visited Croatia last year. We also have a lot of Croatian citizens here in Germany who act as a bridge of sorts between our two countries. We also work together very closely economically," said Merkel.

Prime Minister Plenković said that over the past thirty years Germany had been Croatia's greatest partner, in both a political and economic sense. "Our bilateral trade will exceed 6 billion euros sometime this year. Germany is one of the top investors in Croatia, and many of our people live and work in Germany," he concluded.

Merkel also addressed Croatia's plans to join the Schengen Area, saying that "Croatia has achieved much success on the road to the Schengen area, and I can say that they have made great progress towards the final accession to the Schengen area."

For his part, Plenković confirmed that Croatia had received a very clear recommendation from the European Commission that all criteria for joining the Schengen area had been achieved last year.

He then touched upon the country's strategy for the introduction of the euro single currency, saying there were two paths ahead for Croatia: the Schengen area and the euro zone.

Furthermore, Plenković attended the inauguration of the 85th International Green Week, a major food and agricultural fair featuring 1,800 exhibitors from more than 60 countries. Croatia is this year's partner-country.

Source: HRT