Dear Excellencies, Partners, and Colleagues,
I want to thank you all for joining us today for this really special celebration of the partnership between the World Bank Group and Croatia.
The Bank has been in Croatia for 30 years, but I have been here for only 2 of those years. When I arrived in Zagreb, Croatia was still reeling from two earthquakes and was suffering through COVID. While I was here, war broke out nearby, with global repercussions.
But in the short time that I have shared a part of Croatian history, I too have witnessed the resilience and determination of the Croatian people to recover and move forward. I have seen the Government navigate these shocks – not only managing the recovery and embarking on further reforms, but also leading Croatia into the Eurozone and Schengen during this challenging time.
As the World Bank, we are proud and honored to have been a trusted partner of Croatia over the past 30 years. We are proud to have played a part in supporting Croatia to be where it is today, 3 decades since independence. And I am proud that we continue to partner with Government so closely today – sharing global experience, advising on strategy, financing catalytic projects, and providing technical assistance on difficult reforms.
We are all facing a challenging future. As we have heard today, at the global level there are magnifying shocks, such as climate change, and new megatrends, such as digital technology and AI. Croatia is facing its own headwinds, such as demographic change. The world is changing fast and there is an urgency to act fast.
But we also heard today and we know that there are huge opportunities at hand. Croatia has the comparative advantage of its geographic location, abundant and beautiful land and sea, access to substantial external financing, and of course its resourceful and wonderful people.
As Croatia turns to face this future and takes action to do so, you can count on the World Bank’s continued partnership and support. We are committed to continuing our support to critical agendas -- such as accelerating growth through the private sector; strengthening Croatia’s human capital; supporting the growth of sustainable green and blue economies; and building stronger and more resilient institutions.
I want to let you know that soon we will start developing our new partnership strategy for Croatia, covering the next 5 years, through 2030. We want to hear from our key partners and stakeholders, such as you: what are the priority areas that we should focus our support on going forward? We want to consult widely as we develop our strategy, and I hope to see you and get your feedback during these consultations.
Finally, in closing, the privilege falls upon me to say thank you for this valued partnership! I would like to thank all officials and staff in national, regional and local governments that have worked with us over the past 30 years, especially our counterparts in the Ministry of Finance and in other key ministries. I would like to thank parliamentarians, the staff of our project management units, the private sector, civil society, and academia. Thank you also to representatives of groups of youth, women, and Roma, the international community and institutions, and all other stakeholders across the country, for their partnership with the World Bank Group. Thank you to the World Bank staff, current and retirees.
And now I would now like to invite you to the next – and perhaps most celebratory part – of our celebratory event: lunch, refreshments, and a chance to connect with old friends and new! Please join us now on the beautiful terrace of this historic hotel.
Again, to all, from me and from all my colleagues who have worked to make this partnership, and this event, successful -- a big THANK YOU!