Nicosia - Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko had bilateral meetings with several counterparts on the sidelines of a conference of EU parliament speakers in Nicosia on Monday. Leko met with European Parliament Vice-President Miguel Angel Martinez, German Parliament Speaker Norbert Lammert, Lithuanian Parliament Speaker Vydas Gedvilas and Montenegrin Parliament Speaker Ranko Krivokapic.
Leko and Martinez discussed what the EU expected of Croatia and what Croatia expected of the EU, with Leko saying that expanding cooperation in the Mediterranean was of the greatest interest to Croatia. Martinez spoke of Croatia's role in southeast Europe and the possibility of it sharing its experience from the accession process with other membership aspirants. Croatia should be a toll-free bridge towards its eastern neighbours, Leko quoted him as saying.
The same topics also dominated Leko's talks with Krivokapic who, according to Leko, proposed cooperation between countries on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Leko said that this was a good idea that should be pursued. Lithuania, as a new EU member, and Germany, as an old member, expect from Croatia a considerable input in tackling European problems. "They expect Croatia to be constructive and to bring new hope of the European future in dealing with European issues," Leko told Croatian reporters covering his visit. "We think we can contribute to that process, because Croatia is aware that it has to increase its role, its capacity and its competitiveness in all areas," he added.
When asked if he and his German counterpart had discussed the fact that Germany, along with Denmark, was the only EU member that has not yet ratified Croatia's EU accession treaty, Leko replied in the affirmative, saying that Germany expected Croatia to continue the reform process. "Germany is friendly towards Croatia, but it wants to be credible and apply the same criteria to all EU members, both present and future, after some disappointing experiences," Leko said. Leko said that the Bundestag would begin a debate on the Croatian treaty next month and that it was already known that it would be completed by no later than June 7. On Tuesday morning, Leko is due to attend a final plenary session of the conference, while his official visit to the Republic of Cyprus is scheduled for the afternoon. (Hina)