“My message to the German tax payers: We won't cost you anything!” Milanovic told Focus news magazine on Sunday, attempting to allay German fears that Croatian membership might see them digging into their pockets in the not-too-distant future.
“On the contrary, come here, earn money with us!” said the Prime Minister of the EU's newest member. “Even if we collapse, which I'm sure we won't, that would be our, not the German tax payers' problem,” he added.
“Sure, Croatia is not a garden of roses, but it's definitely not Greece!” said Milanovic, adding that Croatia wouldn't be joining the Euro and so would never be in line for a financial bail-out anyway.
“So everyone can rest assured,” the 46-year-old Social Democrat told the magazine.
Croatia, he reminded Germans, built its motorways long ago and without German money – unlike Poland or Slovakia which had to rely on money from the EU's infrastructure and regional development funds.
The leader even said not to worry about Croatian immigrants coming to Germany for work - they'd all stay put. “Croatians are not a threat to German employees,” he said, adding that his countrymen knew that Germany no longer had any big factories and that only skilled workers were needed.
And so, Milanovic concluded, there was no reason to place work restrictions on low-skilled Croatian workers in Germany.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is among leaders set to attend a celebration marking Croatia becoming the 28th country to join the European Union on July 1st. “That's important to us,” said Milanovic.