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Exchange with counterparts from Croatia highlights strength of bilateral relations

From 30 January to 2 February 2023, BGIPU hosted a delegation of three parliamentarians from the Sabor of Croatia. The delegation was led by Mrs Natalija Martinčević, who is the new head of their IPU group and was accompanied by Mr Ivan Ćelić a member of the IPU Group and Mr Marko Pavić, Chair of the UK/Croatia Friendship Group.

The programme commenced on the Monday morning with a rundown of the parliamentary system by Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations Office Lynn Gardner, followed by a working lunch hosted by the Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale MP who warmly welcomed the visiting delegation and enjoyed a general discussion on the situation in Croatia along with members of both the Commons and Lords. Following lunch was a meeting with Deputy Speaker the Rt Hon Dame Rosie Winterton MP, and good discussions were had around the health systems in Croatia and the UK. This meeting was followed by the delegation observing a Foreign Affairs Committee oral evidence session by Christian Schmidt (High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the topic of their BiH elections, and then a viewing of a session in the House of Lords. The day finished with a welcome reception hosted by BGIPU Chair Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP which included members of the Croatian community along with parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

The following day the delegation started with an excellent tour of the estate by Fabian Hamilton MP who provided the delegates with a rich history of the UK politics and the Parliament. Following on from this was a meeting with the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, who as former Chair of Exiting the European Union Committee, gave a good rundown on where the UK was on the three-year anniversary of the UK leaving the EU. In the afternoon a working lunch was hosted by Wayne David MP, where much was discussed about the recent move to the euro in Croatia. The delegation then met with members of the Lords Committee for European Affairs, who went into in depth discussions about alternative ways the UK could work with the EU. The day finished with a short meeting with members from the British Croatian Chamber of Commerce where good discussions were had around helping start-ups in Croatia and the UK.

On the final day, the delegation had a roundtable meeting with members of the Croatia All-party Parliamentary Group hosted by the Co-Chair The Earl of Dundee. This was followed by the delegation observing an animated session of Prime Minister’s Question Time. After their visit to the chamber, lunch that day was in Peers Dining Room, and the last meeting of the day was with the Chair, Angus Brendan MacNeil MP and members of the International Trade Committee to discuss the future for Croatia now that they have joined the Schengen area.

The BGIPU were delighted to welcome the Croatian delegation to Parliament, and we look forward to consolidating and reinforcing the strong parliamentary links our two countries enjoy.

BGIPU Secretaraiat