Croatia’s six-month rotating presidency of the EU Council officially commenced on Thursday.

Country’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and President of the European Council Charles Michel met in Zagreb to discuss a number of issues, including the next European budget, Brexit and the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans.

Plenkovic Michel European Council

Plenkovic expressed hope that Croatia would be able to assist the process of the EU enlargement in the region, adding that it was important to put the issue back on the EU agenda during the next six months.

The Croatian Prime Minister underlined the importance of unblocking the EU path of North Macedonia and Albania, two countries which hope to start the EU accession talks.  

“We know a little bit more about our neighborhood than others”, said Plenkovic, adding that Croatia has the responsibility to support the aspiring countries’ efforts to get closer to the EU, and wants to have regular meetings organized between EU leaders and the leaders of the region.

He announced that Croatia would act as a partner to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia on those two countries’ EU integration path.

Plenkovic also said that Croatia would never erect a barbed-wire fence, or place physical barricades on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, to prevent illegal migrants from entering Croatia. “We have natural barriers, such as the Danube and the Sava (rivers), mountains and forests, and it would be a bad political message to the neighboring country”, Plenkovic said.