Founded in 2012, the 16+1 cooperation between sixteen Central and Eastern European Countries and China (CEEC & China) started as a Chinese government’s initiative aimed at promoting business and investment relations between those seventeen countries, within the framework of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.
Cooperation between Central and Eastern European Countries and China (hereinafter referred to as CEEC–China, 16+1) was established in Warsaw, Poland, in 2012 with the adoption of the document entitled CHINA’s Twelve Measures for Promoting Friendly Cooperation with Central and Eastern European Countries. The 16+1 countries agreed upon closer cooperation with the aim to intensify and expand cooperation in the fields of investments, transport, finance, science, education and culture. The Secretariat for 16 + 1 cooperation is based within the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The 16+1 refers to the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and People’s Republic of China.
The 6th CEEC–China Summit of Heads of Government was held in 2017 in Budapest, Hungary. Taking into consideration the fifth anniversary of the establishment of CEEC– China cooperation, from the 1st Summit in Poland 2012, throughout the 2013 Summit in Bucharest, the 2014 Summit in Belgrade, the 2015 Summit in Suzhou and the 2016 Summit in Riga, the aim of the 2017 Summit in Budapest was to highlight the significant achievements and fruitful results that had been made during the course of the last five years. The Budapest Summit confirmed that the 16+1 Cooperation had grown over the last five years in the fields of politics, economy and trade, transport and logistics, connectivity, people-to-people exchanges as well as other important areas.
The document entitled Budapest Guidelines for Cooperation between China and CEECs, adopted at the 2017 Summit in Budapest, with “Deepening Economic, Trade and Financial Cooperation for win-win Developments” as a theme, outlines the future directions for the 16+1 cooperation and, inter alia, encourages small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enhance cooperation and exchanges. In that sense, Croatia as a part of the 16+1 Cooperation decided to establish the SME Coordination Mechanism, as announced in the Budapest Guidelines and in accordance with the provision stating that “the Participants support Croatia in hosting the 16+1 SME Mechanism”.
At the 7th Summit of the Heads of Government of the 16 Central and Eastern European Countries and China, held in 2018 in Sofia, it was decided that Croatia will host the next 16 + 1 Summit in 2019 – a decision officially adopted in the Sofia Guidelines.