On her first official visit to the UK, Kolinda Gabar Kitarovic said the EU needed to keep an eye on Russia’s ‘aggressive’ actions and on the threat posed by uncontrolled migration.
The Croatian President has met the Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday. Photo: predsjednica.hr.
Croatia’s President slammed Russian aggression, said uncontrolled migration represented a direct threat to Europe’s stability and warned would-be EU members in the Balkans not to expect to join the club in hurry, in a speech at London’s LSE Tuesday night.
Russia’s “aggressive posture is undermining European stability, and the sooner Russia modifies its behaviour… the more prosperous its relations with the EU will be,” President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic said.
Awareness of Russian actions did not preclude dialogue with Moscow, however, she added, noting terrorism and migration as key areas of mutual concern.
Terrorism, the Croatian President said, “threatened entire countries and has metastasized in our continent, while migration was another key issue of joint EU-Russia interest.
The “West Balkan route” may have been closed to migrants, she added, but “we have to remain vigilant as to the possible reactivation of this route”. Mass migration was a serious threat to EU unity, she said, owing to its capacity to “push [EU member] countries apart” as each one undertook its own policies to deal with the problem.
Croatia joined the EU in 2013 and, in a nod to several neighbouring ex-Yugoslav states aspiring to take the same route - plus Albania - Grabar Kitarovic warned them not to expect to join any time soon.
When Croatia began the accession process in 2005, she recalled, Croatian officials expected to complete the process within two years.
In the end, she observed, it took eight. The problem in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina was complicated further by the recent Bosnian Serb referendum on the Serb-dominated entity’s national day, which she called “illegal and against the Dayton accords” referring to the 1995 agreement that ended the 1992-5 war in Bosnia.
The Croatian President has been meeting UK Prime Minister Theresa May as well as Queen Elizabeth II ahead of negotiations between the UK and EU on leaving the club that are expected to be tough.
Grabar Kitarovic said Croatia regretted Britain’s potential departure but added that the two countries would remain linked through common membership of NATO, which she called “not just a military alliance but an alliance of values”.