H.E. Paolo Trichilo : Relations between the two countries are excellent

It should also be underlined that they are both Mediterranean countries, so they share a significant geographical, economic and cultural dimension.

The newly elected ambassador of the Republic of Italy to Croatia, H.E. Paolo Trichilo , shortly after officially assuming office, gave an interview for our magazine, in which, in the Focus on Italy, he pays special attention to the details of the relationship between the two countries. We also talk about plans for the future in times that are not easy either for Europe or for everyone in the world, but also how he likes our capital and the whole country.

  1. How would you rate the relations between the two countries? Both are members of the EU, Schengen, NATO. It seems allies in all areas.

The relations between Italy and Croatia are indeed excellent. As you rightly pointed out, they are both members of the EU, Schengen and NATO, which means that they have so much in common. The importance of our relationship has been emphasized by the visit to Zagreb of the Italian Prime Minister at the end of last year and by the even more recent meeting of the Council of Ministers, held again in the capital of Croatia, headed by the respective Foreign Ministers. Our collaboration has been reinforced also through the trilateral exercise that includes Slovenia and by the so called MED9, i.e. the nine EU members with a Med coastline.


  1. There are many areas in which the two countries cooperate, from illegal migration, regulating the sea zone, etc. Which would you single out as the most important?

Given the proximity of our two countries and the excellent level of the bilateral relations that has been reached, I would rather not single out one area of cooperation to the detriment of another. Italy and Croatia should continue to work in order to enhance all the aspects of mutual interest. I thank you for mentioning the sea zone, as in this regard I would like to emphasize the agreement reached for the delimitation of the respective Exclusive Economic Zone, that has already been ratified by both parliaments. Also in the area of illegal migration our Countries have enhanced their cooperation, particularly in the context of the abovecited Trilateral exercise with Slovenia: it has been the object of several meetings of the three Interior Ministers. We should not forget also the economic cooperation.

  1. How do you evaluate the economic relations between the two countries? Italy invests a lot in Croatia, what do the numbers show (imports, exports, investments…)? To what extent is this process two-way and how much do Croatian companies invest in Italy?

The economic relations between the two countries are traditionally very strong and have been further consolidated in recent years, leading Italy to be the first export and import partner for Croatia also in 2023 when the overall trade amounted to 8.52 billion euros with a market share of Italy equal to 13.67%. In terms of Croatian imports, in 2023 Italy was the first supplier country to Croatia and the Italian exports reached 5.73 billion euro, with Italy’s share of 14.5%. Italy was also the first destination market for Croatian exports, with a share of 12.2% and the value of exports from Croatia to Italy exceeded 2.79 billion euros. Even if the trade balance is clearly favorable for Italy, our country represents the primary destination market for Croatian products, demonstrating that this is a two-way relationship.

As to investments, thanks to its membership of the EU, its geographical proximity and the favorable business environment, numerous Italian companies and entrepreneurs have decided to invest in Croatia especially in the textile, steel, food, construction, machinery, energy, woodworking and ITC sectors. Let me stress that Italian entrepreneurship has a large impact on real economy, since it is estimated that it is responsible for the creation of around 20 thousand jobs in Croatia. Italy is the 5th largest investor with almost 10% of FDI carried out in Croatia in 1993-2023. In the first 9 months of 2023 the Italian FDI was 160 MEURO with a growth of 31% compared to the pandemic year of 2021. Finally, according to data from the Bank of Italy, the stock of Croatian investments in Italy until December 2022 was almost 200 MEURO and Croatia recorded positive annual investments in Italy equal to 37 MEURO in 2021 and 24 in 2022.


Photo: Office of the President


  1. Where do you see Europe and the EU in 10 years and what are the biggest challenges facing Europe that can threaten our values, way of life…? What are the biggest challenges?                                                                                            To make predictions is always a very difficult task and I cannot presume to have the crystal ball. However, I know that a strong European Union, as well as solid Transatlantic bonds are very relevant to face our present and future challenges. We need to preserve Eorope and the EU as an area of peace and prosperity for our citizens and the future generations as well.


  1. How does official Rome view EU enlargement? In addition to the countries of the Western Balkans, there is also Ukraine and Moldova?

Rome and Zagreb have been working very well together also with regard to the European agenda and the enlargement process in particular. The group of Friends of the Western Balkans has been key in encouraging a way forward for the perspectives of European integration of this region and in contributing to the development of such process, as we are convinced that this would be beneficial to the whole of Europe. Also Ukraine and Moldova deserve much attention by the EU in the current geopolitical context and progress has been made also in this respect.


  1. You are a new resident of Zagreb. How do you like the city and have you already traveled around Croatia? What would you suggest to your friends to visit, try food, etc.?

I like very much Zagreb, also given the variety of its extension with a combination of hilly and flat areas, medieval and neoclassical architecture, museums and parks. It also seems to me that the inhabitants of Zagreb enjoy a relaxed attitude to life, like in Rome, which I consider to be a plus. In addition, Croatia boasts a great natural and cultural richness. I visited the wonderful Plitvice lakes in Easter, Rijeka to meet the Italian minority and Zadar to participate in a conference on the Blue economy. To my friends I suggest to visit the whole of Croatia from north to south and from east to west! Concerning food, as I vegetarian, I am happy I can find a lot of healthy places in Zagreb.