Rome - Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko held separate meetings in Rome on Friday with Italian House of Representatives President Laura Boldrini, Maltese Parliament Speaker Angelo Farrugia, and Latvian Parliament Speaker Solvita Aboltina. The talks were held on the margins of the international conference "What Europe stands for: Growth, jobs and rights: will the European Union rise to the occasion?".
Boldrini told Leko the EU was losing the right direction and that it was necessary to reassure citizens that there were still good reasons to vote for Europe's future in this year's European Parliament elections so that they did not vote for members who were against the EU idea. She said the most struck by the current crisis were young people who grew up in families making sacrifices to pay the bills, and that austerity measures could not be the only thing Europe offered them. No member state is happy with the EU as it is today. We all want a Europe which will be closer to citizens than to financial institutions, she said.
Leko agreed about the need to co-create the European policy in the national parliaments. "Italy is one of the founders of the European Union and Croatia its newest member state, but this doesn't mean that there is a difference in our responsibility for the Union's future." He said the national parliaments should be bridges between EU bodies, member states and their citizens, suggesting that parliamentary European affairs committee should intensify their cooperation. Leko invited Boldrini to officially visit Croatia, saying the visit would confirm and strengthen the excellent relations between Croatia and Italy as well as the Croatian and Italian peoples. She accepted the invitation. Boldrini visited Croatia last as an UNHCR worker during the after the 1991-95 war. She said it was also very important to strengthen institutional, trade and cultural relations between the two countries, which she said had many common interests, such as the Adriatic-Ionian Strategy, the protection of the Adriatic, and Mediterranean initiatives.
Farrugia said Malta and Croatia had common interests in the Mediterranean. He said illegal immigrants and asylum seekers was a key problem for Malta and that it must be solved on the EU level together. Leko agreed, saying the EU border could not be only one member state's burden.
Aboltina said Latvia was preparing to take over the presidency over the Council of the EU next year and that one of the priorities was organising a summit on the Eastern Partnership, with an emphasis on Ukraine. She said Latvia supported Ukraine's territorial integrity and that a solution to the current crisis should be sought through political negotiations. Aboltina invited Leko to officially visit the Latvian parliament. He said the two countries had many things in common, such as size, historical experience and interests in the EU, adding that these were reasons to deepen cooperation. (Hina)