State Secretary for Europe Andreja Metelko-Zgombić attended the meeting of the General Affairs Council in Brussels on May 30. The agenda included the preparation of the regular meeting of the European Council, which will take place on June 29/30, and the hearing of Poland and Hungary in the context of the rule of law and the procedure initiated under Article 7 of the EU Treaty.
The following topics will be on the agenda of the leaders' meeting in June: Ukraine, economy, security and defence, foreign relations and migrations. As regards Ukraine, State Secretary Metelko-Zgombić emphasized the importance of further EU unity and the provision of concrete aid to Ukraine, specifically military aid. Emphasizing the importance of humanitarian demining as a fundamental prerequisite to rebuilding society in the post-war period and the specific experience that Croatia has in this regard, she announced an international donor conference on demining that Croatia will organize in cooperation with Ukraine in Zagreb in October this year. She particularly emphasized the importance of ensuring justice for the victims of war and accountability for all crimes related to Russian aggression against Ukraine, including the crime of aggression, and efforts to establish a competent court for this purpose. She announced that Croatia would organize a workshop for Ukrainian prosecutors in Zagreb in June as part of strengthening cooperation with Ukraine in the area of war crimes prosecution. She expressed her hope that by the time of the meeting of the European Council in June, the 11th package of sanctions would be adopted, which would reinforce the implementation as well as prevent the circumvention of sanctions.
Croatia welcomes the continuation of the leaders' discussion, following the March agreement, on the topic of the economy and European competitiveness, with the aim of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the European economy, and supports strategic discussion about China as part of the topic of external relations. As regards security and defence, the State Secretary emphasized the importance of further strengthening the defence capabilities of EU Member States and welcomed the inclusion of the topic of EU-NATO cooperation in the agenda of the European Council in June, ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius.
With regard to migrations, State Secretary Metelko-Zgombić welcomed the announced report of the European Commission on progress in relation to the conclusions of the European Council from March of this year, stressing that it is necessary to maintain equal attention on all migration routes as well as on the external dimension of migrations, and achieve balance between solidarity and responsibilities in the legislative package on migrations and asylum.
As part of the continued dialogue within the proceedings initiated on the basis of Art. 7(1) of the EU Treaty, in 2017 for Poland and in 2018 for Hungary, the Council held hearings for both countries, which was an opportunity to review recent developments and encourage the implementation of further reforms that will eliminate identified concerns in regard of the rule of law.