Source: Council of the European Union 2
Dobro jutro! Thank you very much Prime Minister, Andrej, for your warm welcome and for our very good discussion today.
It’s great to be back here in Zagreb. As you know, it’s always a pleasure for me to visit Croatia, not only for official reasons, but also in a personal capacity. I have always felt that since the accession of Croatia, the European Union has become more beautiful and culturally enriched. In this respect, I am particularly pleased that next year, my favourite town of Rijeka will be a European Capital of Culture.
Today we discussed the preparations for your first ever EU presidency, which is a big challenge for any country. But I have no doubt, also after today’s conversations, that you are very well-prepared. Both in terms of your determination, positive attitude as well as the practical work. In other words, I am leaving the EU in good hands.
But your task is not easy. Brexit may happen at the beginning of next year, in which case you will be in charge of launching the negotiations on the future relationship with the UK. As regards the MFF, once a deal is reached, you, as the Presidency, will be responsible for negotiating the legislation with the European Parliament. It will be a critical period for the EU, and we will be relying on your steady leadership.
You will also have a challenging agenda in terms of enlargement and the Western Balkans. The lack of a decision to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia at the October summit was a matter of great disappointment to me. However, I will not cease to be an optimist. I deeply believe that you will do everything in your power to restore EU unity on enlargement, while demonstrating positive EU engagement in the region. I will keep my fingers crossed for the success of the Zagreb summit.
As these are my last days as the President of the European Council, and this is my very last visit as President of the European Council, it is not a coincidence that I am here in Zagreb. It was also my private, personal decision to choose Zagreb as my final destination. I want to thank Andrej, my colleague and friend, for our friendship, for your loyalty and our fantastic cooperation. I am convinced that with such an energetic, extremely competent, and pro-European leader like you, the Croatian Presidency and the EU will be safe and stable. Hvala lijepo!