Along with his Maltese counterpart, the Croatian President also met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Republic of Malta Angelo Farrugia, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta Robert Abel and the head of the opposition Bernardo Grech.
President Zoran Milanović is on a two-day return visit to Malta, where he was received by President George Vella. The focus of their talks was on support for Croatia's entry into the Schengen Border Area, Malta's experiences after adopting the Euro, the situation in Southeast Europe, the current security and economic crisis, and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Milanović criticized the recent decision to grant candidate status for EU membership to Ukraine and Moldova, but not to Bosnia and Herzegovina: "The latest move not to, to grant the candidate status for the EU membership to Ukraine and Moldova, while at the same time leaving Bosnia overlooked, has nothing to do with a prudent statesmanship, with foresightedness and responsibility in international politics. And it can hardly be argued politically, tactically, and at the end of the ethically, why the EU, or the European Council for that matter - as the body which eventually decides, didn't grant Bosnia status of the candidate. This omission goes hand in hand with a series of other omissions that we witness and witnessed at Western Balkans, such as the dynamics of the negotiation process of Montenegro and the absence of the start of the accession negotiations of Albania and North Macedonia."
Milanović said that Croatia's entry into Schengen is in Croatia's immediate interest: "We are an open economy, as all European economies should be, according to the fundamental documents of the EU and the European commitment to the idea of free markets."
He added that it is in Croatia's interest to facilitate the flow of people who come to Croatia and participate in our tourist economy, and that he expects Malta's support in this regard: "I will not claim that it is a done deal, that Croatia will immediately enter the Schengen zone, but I’m hoping for the best."
The presidents also discussed the introduction of the euro in Croatia. Milanović said that it is treated as a fait accompli and something that seems to him unstoppable: "Croatia has made a decision. We will have to live with that decision. It is not a worrisome decision, many countries have tested it, so once again I’m hoping for the best. Of course, by doing so, we are renounce one of the basic tools of state sovereignty, monetary sovereignty. It is our currency that was created in the tumultuous and turbulent years of our recent history."
For his part President Vella said that he understood the Croatian President’s sensitivity regarding the issue of the rights of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and emphasized that the decades-long efforts of some candidates from the Western Balkans have not been rewarded: "There is a need for a much greater commitment from the European Union to the countries of the Western Balkans. There is also a danger that these countries will begin to turn to the influence of third countries. A more serious and clearer European perspective would contribute, among other things, to the stability of Southeast Europe."
In the context of Croatia's EU accession in 2013, Milanović said that Croatia’s membership negotiations were conducted with the knowledge that there are about 600 000 Croatian citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina: "That is why it cannot be said that these people became Croatian citizens after Croatia joined in the EU. They were there even before 2013. A large number of Croats living in Croatia have their origins in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Croatia is obliged to help these people, to try to contribute to solving their problems, but in a peaceful way."
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