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The President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma met with the President of Croatia Ivo Josipović in Zagreb today. At the meeting, Ergma pointed out the new opportunities which the partnership in the European Union would add to bilateral relations. “The bilateral cooperation of Estonia and Croatia, including in the field of economy, is still far from its potential. We have to use the existing ties, including interparliamentary ties, more actively in order to promote practical cooperation,” the President of the Riigikogu noted at the meeting.

The meeting focused on the use of modern technology in public governance. The head of state of Croatia recalled his visit to Estonia in May 2011, and the ideas for using the practice of e-government in Croatia that had been received then. Josipović in particular highlighted the ensuring of access to laws and legislation as well as to various registers (population registers, land registers, etc.).

In the conversation with the Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Boris Šprem, the President of the Riigikogu congratulated Croatia on the occasion of the successful conclusion of negotiations and expressed her pleasure that EU countries would soon be able to welcome a new partner among themselves. “Estonia will clearly and in principle continue to support the enlargement of the European Union. It is the best way to extend the area of democratic values, our common values. Recent history confirms: the enlargement of the European Union has been a success story. The negotiations which Croatia has successfully concluded are another chapter of the success story for both the European Union and Croatia,” Ergma stressed.

The President of the Riigikogu underlined in particular the need for a responsible attitude towards the fulfilment of the agreements that have been adopted jointly in the EU. “Many of today’s problems in the European Union, especially in financial matters, are the result of the ignoring of the commitments taken.

Croatian parliament leader and representatives of committees expressed their thanks to Estonia for support in the negotiations with the EU. They were particularly interested in Estoniaʼs experience in carrying out the necessary reforms immediately before and after the accession – Croatia still has steps to take on the path of reforms. In bilateral relations, the representatives of Croatia expressed a deeper interest in cooperation in the fields of science, information technology, shipping trade and fishing industry. They assured that they take seriously the extended responsibility that goes with the accession to the European Union. EU membership will increase the significance of Croatia as an initiator of regional cooperation. It was asserted that regional bilateral problems would not be taken along to the EU.

The Riigikogu delegation which, besides Ergma, includes Peep Aru, Kaia Iva, Jaan Õunapuu, Rainer Vakra and the Secretary General of the Riigikogu Heiki Sibul, also had meetings with the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Radimir Čačić, and the Foreign Affairs Committee and the European Integration Committee of the parliament. At the meeting at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, opportunities for scientific cooperation were discussed. The delegation also visited the city of Zaprešić.

This is the first visit of representatives of the legislative body of Estonia hosted by the parliament of Croatia after the signing of the accession agreement between the European Union and Croatia in December last year and the general elections at the end of the year.

Photos of the meeting are available here: http://fotoalbum.riigikogu.ee/v/2012/Ene_Ergma/Horvaatia/02.html

The Riigikogu Press Service