|Plenkovic: EU countries have similar positions on ties with China but optics is different|
|Author: CSEBA / SEEbiz|
|22nd March 2019|
|BRUSSELS - European Union member states have very similar positions on the relations with China but small ones like Croatia have a different optics than big ones, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Brussels on Friday.|
Relations with China were one of the main topics of the two-day EU summit, which ended on Friday, but which was completely overshadowed by the situation around Brexit. The discussion was held in preparation for the EU-China summit on 9 April in Brussels, and two days later, on April 11 and 12, the 16 plus 1 summit in Dubrovnik will be held. The Chinese president will soon visit Italy and announce meetings with several European leaders.
"We had an open discussion and I would say that our positions are very similar, but the optic is different," Plenkovic told journalists.
Plenkovic said he met his European leaders with preparations for the summit of China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China (16 plus 1) in Dubrovnik. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang comes to the summit with 400 businessmen.
Plenkovic says that format 16 plus 1 enabled smaller countries to build and develop relations with China. He pointed out that the most important thing is that 16 plus 1 works and is complementary to the European Union's policy towards China.
He adds that all EU members are committed to doing business under equal conditions, respect for procedures, market openness, non-discrimination.
"Behind all these principles are all EU members, there is no dilemma here, but what matters is what I have emphasized to our partners, especially from large members, that there are different optics," says Plenković adding that he was in the last two and a half years ago as the prime minister had five bilateral meetings with the Chinese prime minister.
"If there is no such 16 plus 1 format, it is my modest estimate by looking at the statistics of previous meetings, unless we exclude this format, for some 40 years. This format has given us the opportunity to build relationships with China has opened up and which has recently put more emphasis on exports than wants to import, buy our products and services, "said Plenkovic.