Croatia, Italy and Slovenia agree closer cooperation in Adriatic
The foreign ministers of Slovenia, Croatia and Italy signed a declaration in the Italian city of Ancona on 10 July committing to enhancing cooperation in the management and protection of the North Adriatic, including with a view to preventing migrant boat tragedies.
"We care about the Adriatic Sea, its cleanliness and biodiversity, the expansion and modernisation of our ports, and the growth of our economy," Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said at a joint press conference after the meeting.
The countries signed the Ancona Declaration to politically expresses their support for a number of projects in the region. "By signing the declaration, we committed to jointly carry out a search and rescue operation at sea in the autumn. This is important to prevent human tragedies at sea and to tackle the problem of illegal migration in a humane way," Fajon said.
Tackling illegal migration at source contries
Since Croatia joined the Schengen Area at the beginning of 2023 the number of illegal migrants in Slovenia has increased threefold.
"We need to secure the Schengen border. Our proposal is to include Frontex in this process, in addition to joint police patrols. This could, eliminate unnecessary and unjustified internal controls on our border with Austria," she said.
The three ministers agreed the migration issue should be tackled at EU level, with a greater focus on the countries of origin, especially in Africa.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani noted that Italy had proposed a plan to invest in the progress of the African continent. Despite the war in Ukraine, NATO should also focus on the problems in Africa such as wars, climate change, and the presence of terrorists and the Russian mercenary military group Wagner, he said.
Commitment to boost N Adriatic ports
Fajon was happy that the ministers also committed to regular updating on the implementation of the exclusive economic zone, as well as to strengthening the competitiveness of ports.
Tajani said infrastructure should also be strengthened to improve competitiveness and that some container ships could be diverted from the Mediterranean to Adriatic ports.
The trio called for closer cooperation with Western Balkan countries and more assistance to EU candidate countries.
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman highlighted the security aspect, especially in the light of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Zagreb will host an international donors conference on demining Ukraine on 11 and 12 October.
He also pointed to the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project, which has qualified for a grant of up to €25 million for the development of a transnational hydrogen valley between Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.
The ministers agreed to hold their fifth such meeting in Slovenia next year. Fajon also invited her counterparts to attend a meeting of parties to the Barcelona Convention in Slovenia in December as the country takes over its presidency.
The three ministers were joined by their Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg over working lunch to discuss topical issues. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said they focussed on the war in Ukraine, the situation in the Western Balkans, and protection of the EU's external borders.