Autor: admin
Datum objave: 07.07.2018

Croatia to host 16 + 1 initiative summit next year

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic confirmed on Friday after meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Sofia and added that a new page in relations between Croatia and China was opened at the last summit, held seven months ago

Croatia to host 16 + 1 initiative summit next year

Next year Croatia will host a summit of the 16 + 1 initiative of countries of eastern and central Europe and China, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic confirmed on Friday after meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Sofia and added that a new page in relations between Croatia and China was opened at the last summit, held seven months ago.

"Today's main event is the agreement that in 2019, Croatia hosts this meeting of 16 central and eastern European countries and China. Croatian diplomats have been working on that since our last meeting in Budapest seven months ago. Prime Minister Li (Kequiang) and I have just confirmed that this will be stated in a joint declaration of all 17 countries to be adopted tomorrow," Plenkovic said after meeting with the Chinese prime minister.

The idea for a platform for cooperation between China and central and eastern European countries was born after their first economic-trade forum in 2011 in Budapest. Six years has passed since the first summit held in 2012 and subsequent summits were held in Bucharest, Belgrade, China, Riga and the last was held in Budapest in 2017. The Sofia summit is the seventh.

Plenkovic underscored that in the past seven months, since the summit in Budapest in November last year, cooperation between China and Croatia had been raised to a new level.

"It's a fact that since the last meeting we have agreed a meeting of 16 + 1 tourism ministers to be held in Dubrovnik in September. It is also a fact that the China Road and Bridge Corporation company has won the tender for the construction of the Peljesac Bridge. That has opened an absolutely new page in relations between China and Croatia. I believe that that fact and the next summit, when the prime minister of China will visit Croatia, will contribute to strengthening our cooperation," Plenkovic underscored.

Commenting on areas for possible further cooperation between Zagreb and Beijing, Plenkovic cited transport, mentioning the Zadar and Rijeka ports and cooperation in rail transport.

Now is the time, he believes, "to make a major step forward in modernising rail transport. We are ready for a partnership with China in that regard."

Plenkovic added that agreement had also been reached for the two countries to exchange various cultural events during 2019 in addition to the fact that the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) had opened an office in Shanghai and the Croatian Tourism Board (HTZ) would do so too. He added that Croatia had been recognised by Chinese tourists as an interesting new destination in Europe and that this year 200,000 Chinese tourists could visit the country.

"We are trying to agree direct flights between Zagreb and Beijing and Shanghai," he underscored.

The heads of the central and eastern European countries will try and expand and deepen their cooperation with China on Saturday.

Plenkovic is attending the Sofia summit along with the heads of government of 10 EU countries and five EU candidate countries and potential candidates.

Countries attending the summit include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and China.

The initiative's objective is to enhance cooperation between central and eastern European countries  and China in trade and investments, transport connectivity, finance, agriculture, science and technology, health, education and culture.

This year's summit in Bulgaria has identified four priority areas for economic cooperation: high technology, joint investments and industrial partnership, infrastructure, and agriculture and tourism.

In addition to the summit of heads of government, a business forum will be held in Sofia and it will be attended by representatives of more than 250 Chinese companies and 700 business people from central and eastern Europe. The forum, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 people, will be opened by Bulgaria's and China's prime ministers, Boyko Borisov and Li Kequiang respectively.

The 16 +1 initiative is part of China's One Belt, One Road mega project, a sort of modern-day Silk Road considered to be one of the most ambitious projects in the world.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Friday wold not reveal the name of the possible successor to Croatian National Bank (HNB) governor Boris Vujcic, saying only that the name of the candidate would be made public very soon.

Vujcic's term as HNB governor expired on Friday, and the public still does not know who could succeed him.

"The parliament will discuss and make a decision on the governor and his deputy and the three vice governors next week," Plenkovic told reporters in Sofia, where he was attending a summit of 16 Eastern and Central European countries and China.

The President: During the Presidency of the EU Council Bulgaria Narrowed its Horizon and Failed to See What Was Happening to the West of the Western Balkans

We should not be misled by the compliments Bulgaria received that are standard for any EU presidency – the EU is currently in such a situation  that Brussels can afford only positive evaluations. This is what President Rumen Radev said at the opening ceremony of the conference dedicated to the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council. The forum is organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Institute for Economy and International Relations.

The Head of State emphasized that during these six months, events critical for the EU took place. There are centrifugal forces within the Union which call into question its architecture and, according to some European politicians, its very existence, Rumen Radev said. In his words, however, the topic of the EU's future “evaded” the efforts of the Bulgarian Presidency. “My estimation is that Bulgaria confirmed its position of a peripheral, the most peripheral country for the EU both with respect to the structures and with respect to holding the major debate,” Radev said.

The Bulgarian government somehow seemed to wholly pay attention to foreign policy and dedicate itself to the Western Balkans and turned its back on important, highly explosive processes unfolding inside the country, the President said. The President emphasized that the power holders had the ambition to use the EU Presidency for domestic PR purposes and ignored important for our country problems such as education, judicial reform, fighting corruption, attracting investments and stimulating economic growth. “Foreign policy issues cannot possibly legitimize the lack of action regarding the critically important for the Bulgarian society topics. The European idea cannot be used to pursue narrow partisan goals and cannot be privatized. Therefore I think that those in power in Bulgaria should as soon as possible get rid of the euphoria of this artificially created image and should promptly, body and soul, get back to the harsh Bulgarian reality,” Rumen Radev urged.

The Head of State said that he would not like to downplay the fact that during the Bulgarian EU Council Presidency 78 dossiers were closed. However, he noted that “anyway this is ultimately mere statistics.” “The number of kisses and hugs, the number of European leaders that pose at Lovers' Bridge, the hundreds of meetings and prepared documents ultimately remain statistics. What will go down in history is what happened with the Union during the Bulgarian Presidency,” Rumen Radev said.

The race between the rotating presidents of the EU Council to mechanically close dossiers in conditions of lack of ideas may lead to closing the EU itself, the Head of State emphasized. He explained that Europe alone cannot “manage” to follow its agenda and a lot of decisions are neglected, the fundamental one being the Union's future – a problem which requires real leadership.

In Radev’s words, the “Western Balkans” priority was consistently pushed forward. However, in the course of time it was “left behind” in the EU agenda and the focus was shifted on to the migration problem, which puts the EU values to the test. “Migration caused great disparities in the Union which threaten its unity and expose a lot of institutional weaknesses. Therefore although the Western Balkans remained a priority for Sofia, they went away from the focus of united Europe,” the Head of State explained.

The President said that Bulgaria failed to categorically raise the issue of European security, stability and defense capacity and the topic was left to be discussed in a different, much narrower format. “In this respect Bulgaria narrowed its horizon and failed to see what was happening to the west of the Western Balkans,” the President said. He noted that currently new issues and concerns are surfacing related to the relations between Kosovo and Serbia, the situation in the Republic of Macedonia, the real value of the Sofia declaration. “As we remember, a handshake between the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, not without help, of course, was presented almost as a solution to the problem between Kosovo and Serbia. However, a mere couple of weeks later President Vucic clearly said that a new approach should be adopted in the negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia and without the direct commitment of the US and Russia this problem will not be resolved,” Rumen Radev recalled and added that this is an eloquent assessment of a European mediation.

The Head of State welcomed the signing of the Friendship, Good-neighborliness and Cooperation agreement between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia. However, in his words, first the bilateral relations should have been assessed and it should have been noted that sooner or later an agreement would be negotiated between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece. “We somehow were quick to take the declaration of 1999 between the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria, to change it into an agreement with minor amendments. And if we now compare the two agreements – between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia and between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, we will see considerable differences,” Radev said. He further emphasized that the agreement between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia is subject to change and denunciation and has a time limit, unlike the one with Greece. “Greece solved the problems pertaining to national identity, history and language at a high political level stipulated in the agreement with uncompromising terms and conditions. In our agreement we left these problems to be solved by the commission that has powers only in the sphere of history, without being able to address political processes,” Radev said. The President thanked everyone who put efforts in organizing the Presidency and emphasized that in logistic terms our administration managed to tackle all problems and meet their commitments.     

President Rumen Radev and the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang Discussed the Establishment in Sofia of a Center for Coordinating Joint Projects and the Norms between the EU and China

The Bulgarian Head of State called on China to increase its investments in Bulgaria in information technologies, education and science

The review of the Chinese economic presence in our region shows that the Chinese investments in the neighboring countries are a couple of times higher than those in Bulgaria. We would not only like to catch up with this lag and attract big Chinese investors in the energy and transport infrastructure projects, but also adopt a new comprehensive approach which would unite strategic spheres such as industry, information technologies, culture, education and agriculture. This is what President Rumen Radev called on for during his meeting with the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang at 2 Dondukov street.

Li Keqiang is visiting Bulgaria to take part in the summit of the 16+1 group for cooperation between China and the Central and Eastern Europe countries, which this year is held in Sofia. The Bulgarian Head of State voiced conviction that the Chinese Prime Minister’s visit in Bulgaria will give a strong impetus to the development of the relations of friendship and partnership between the two countries and will contribute to raising them to a higher level.

Rumen Radev and Li Keqiang shared the idea to establish a Center for studying the compatibility between the European and Chinese norms in Sofia, which should also coordinate future projects in spheres of mutual interest between the EU and the countries from the region. The idea is to overcome the current lack of sufficient information and lack of knowledge about the procedures and practices the EU and China have adopted. Li Keqiang will present the project at the forthcoming meeting in the 16+1 format.

Rumen Radev also called on for achieving synergy between the Chinese initiatives and the EU policies in our region.

The president highlighted the positive trend of increasing the trade between Bulgaria and China, voiced hope for speeding up the procedures for importing Bulgarian agricultural products in the People’s Republic of China and noted that there is still a great unused potential in economic partnership. “China is one of our most important partners. In the conditions of attack against the market economy principles, China became a pillar in safeguarding these principles,” the Head of State said. “We highly appreciate the friendship we have cultivated throughout all these years and believe that it should be strengthened because it is the basis for future useful contacts. We are pleased to have excellent political relations, based on mutual trust and respect. I would like to assure you that we are willing to develop our comprehensive friendly relations,” the President further said.

Prime Minister Li Keqiang, for his part, expressed the People’s Republic of China’s interest in making future investments in Bulgaria in the sphere of industry, information technologies, energy, transport, culture, education and scientific research, as well as in opening a direct airline between Bulgaria and China which will ensure a greater number of tourists from the two countries.

Rumen Radev thanked for the assistance provided by Prime Minister Li Keqiang in person and by Ambassador Zhang Haizhou for organizing the operations on the search for the Bulgarian mountain climber Boyan Petrov, who disappeared after an attempt to climb the Shishapangma peak in the Himalayas. At the meeting the President invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Bulgaria at a time convenient for him. 

Kategorije: Društvo
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