Croatian president addresses students in Azerbaijan

ZAGREB, Oct 24 (Hina) - The future of the European Union and the challenges it faces, NATO enlargement and the refugee crisis were topics that interested students in Baku on Monday during a lecture by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who also answered questions about her private life and possible hardships in her career as a woman.

The visiting Croatian president Grabar-Kitarovic held a lecture at the Baku Diplomatic Academy where mostly students, but also diplomats and parliamentarians, came to hear her.

Speaking about the EU, she said that over the past few years the EU was marked by recession, decreased public support and diminished trust in EU institutions as well as the loss of enthusiasm for further enlargement. An erosion of values and society closing up has occurred.

Croatia wishes to continue fighting for European values, for solidarity that goes both ways. Nevertheless, I'm a little concerned how much it will take to resolve all that... before we return to the Europe in which there is trust, she said.

In the refugee crisis too, Croatia showed that it was not a closed or xenophobic society. It did not shut its borders. The extreme right hasn't grown in popularity. Last year it was a transit country for almost 700,000 people and as such it was hit by financial burden which could have been better spent. I am concerned, however, that Croatia can neither shut its border nor receive a large number of people and it's obvious that the refugee crisis is something that it will have to deal with for years, she warned.

As far as NATO is concerned, the president said that the fact that many countries are interested in accessing the alliance is testimony of it values with regard to transatlantic security and the fact that Montenegro is about to enter the alliance is a sign of NATO's open door policy.

In her lecture the president spoke of the importance of energy security and independence, infrastructure connectivity and a digital economy. She stressed the importance of constructing an LNG terminal on the Croatian island of Krk and connecting that terminal with other LNG terminals in Europe, in Lithuania and Poland, as well as the importance of constructing a gas pipeline from the Caspian region to the Adriatic, the Southern Gas Corridor, and of Croatia connecting to the pipeline.

She reflected on the importance of the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative and of energy and infrastructure connectivity of the countries in that triangle.

Finally, the president was asked how she manages her professional career as a woman. Grabar-Kitarovic said that she never dreamt she would ever be president, but that quality is always the best recipe.

She explained that she had deferred her doctorate until her children had grown up and that her husband has deferred his career to be with the children while her term in office lasted.

I don't recognise society where one person is worth more than another. That is not a matter of culture but of universal human rights, she concluded.


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