President of Malta George Vella held talks with Croatian President Zoran Milanović in Zagreb, as he began his official commitments as part of a state visit to the Republic of Croatia. The state visit is taking place following an invitation of President Milanović.
Addressing a joint press conference at the end of the very cordial encounter, President Vella said that, over the years, and also through their membership in the European Union, Malta and Croatia have established a very strong relationship which has reaped progress for both countries in the political, economic and cultural fields. He referred to the growing potential in the fields of trade and commerce, engineering, training, education, maritime affairs, ICT, logistics and tourism.
President Vella also spoke of the joint commitment of the two Mediterranean countries to ensure that ongoing challenges, such as migration, as well as stability and security with the southern partners, feature prominently on the EU’s agenda. President Vella said that Malta remains concerned by the migratory pressure on the Central Mediterranean route, which saw a significant increase in arrivals in 2020 and this year. He stressed that this should not be just a matter for a few frontline member states, and that solidarity must come from all across the Union.
President Vella underlined the importance that Malta attaches to the European perspective of Western Balkan countries which are aspiring to join the EU. Accession to the EU would bring mutual benefits as, while it ensures steadfast reforms in a range of important fields, it also contributes to making the EU itself complete, more stable, and more secure.
President Milanović reiterated Croatia’s determination to take cooperation with Malta to the next level, and stated that Malta is a unique Mediterranean country that presented several opportunities. There are several areas where Croatia could look at Malta’s best practices, and he identified economic growth, accession to the Eurozone, and tourism as such examples. On the issue of migration, President Milanović spoke of his admiration of Malta’s proactive policy that remained well-prepared, humane and open, despite the difficulties encountered by the country.
Before departing, President Vella invited his Croatian counterpart to pay a state visit to Malta in the near future. After his meeting with President Milanović, President Vella laid a wreath at the ‘Voice of the Croatian Victims – Wall of Pain’ memorial at the Mirogoj cemetery.
In a speech at the launch of this year’s edition, President George Vella explained how such an occasion unites all the people and said that he is confident that once again, The Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation will find the support of the people.
In Zagreb, the President is accompanied by Mrs Miriam Vella. The Maltese delegation also includes, among others, Minister for Equality, Research, and Innovation Owen Bonnici, and Ambassador of Malta to Croatia John Spiteri.