An Interview with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović of Croatia

Fletcher Forum: In a speech given at the U.N., you stated that climate change is a powerful weapon of mass destruction, and we were hoping that you could elaborate on how you see climate and climate control as security issues.

KGK: Absolutely. Climate and climate control are intertwined with security in every possible way. We’ve seen entire countries starting to disappear, small island countries. But even for Croatia as a coastal state, we’ve seen the level of the sea rising, and in Italy, across the Croatian coast, Venice is sinking, one of the reasons being also the rising levels of the sea because of the melting polar ice caps. Climate change is definitely one of the elements that will continue to contribute to the migratory waves that we’ve seen so far that consist of asylum seekers, people fleeing from war, destruction, terrorism, oppression, et cetera, economic migrants, but also people who will be running in search of a home to live once their countries disappear. So I believe that this is one of the security threats of the future that we have to start working on very firmly today. Croatia has signed and ratified the Paris Agreement, we will continue to stick not only to the provisions of the Paris Agreement, but will continue to do whatever is in our power to provide for climate control and for control of environmental pollution and the protection of the environment in Croatia. Our forests, for instance, are disappearing, especially the evergreen forests because of the acid rain that we get from the west, from other parts of Europe that are more developed and where there is more industrial pollution. So climate control is something that cannot be stopped by walls or wires or borders, it’s something that is our joint obligation for the future of mankind.

FF: Can you speak a little bit about “real” versus “imaginary?” Our theme for this semester for the print edition is the global battle for truth, so looking at all sides of different debates. A lot of problems that are racking the EU right now and similar institutions come down to these competing claims for truth. For example, the truth that Europe’s long history of violence or the EU’s continuing imperfection versus the truth that European integration has brought unprecedented stability, prosperity, democracy, et cetera. So how do you confront these competing claims, such as the ones stated, or others that come to mind.

KGK: It’s not always easy, but for me, European integration has absolutely been a very, very positive process that has truly brought Europe together. But we still see these differences in imaginary geography between the East and the West. And we need to erase that, in physical and all other terms. So, you still see that there is lack of an infrastructure, of energy, of transportation, and other infrastructure—and thus my Three Seas Initiative that has been embraced by twelve EU member countries. So we need to pull the continent closer together. It has been imperfect, it has had its setbacks, but I think that the accession process, or rather what I call the consolidation of Europe—because Europe will not be enlarging anywhere, it will be incorporating the areas that truly belong to the continent—is a natural process that will guarantee freedom, stability, and prosperity on the continent.

Of course, there will always be skeptics in our own country and in many other countries, there will always be push and pull factors, and unfortunately we’ve seen more pull than push factors lately. Brexit has been an event that has shocked us all, and we do respect the will of the people of the UK that they expressed in the referendum. We’ll be sorry to see the UK leave, but I hope that the UK will remain engaged, especially in the Euro-Atlantic structures, and this is also where we see the role of the United States, closely connected to the European continent to keep the peace, to keep the stability, and to keep the prosperity. Because the threats to security today are becoming so volatile, so unpredictable, and develop so fast that none of us can protect ourselves individually and, as I’ve said already, no walls, no razor wires, will protect us. It’s only collaboration and sharing of values, which often we forget about. And one of the basic ones, solidarity, is what will protect us from the dangers of the future.

 

To see the rest of this article, go to: The Fletcher Forum.

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