EU leader Donald Tusk says Croatia’s EU presidency important

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, left, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 20...
President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...
President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...
President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, left, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 20...

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...

President of the European Council Donald Tusk, right, is welcomed by Croatia's prime minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Croatia, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2...

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Outgoing European Union leader Donald Tusk says that Croatia’s first ever presidency in the 28-member bloc will come at a “critical period.”

The European Council president said after talks Tuesday with Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic that the EU’s newest member state could end up in charge of launching the post-Brexit negotiations with Britain.

Croatia takes over the six-month rotating chairmanship in January. Brexit is now set for Jan. 31.

Tusk expressed confidence in Croatia’s preparation for the job, telling Plenkovic “we will be relying on your steady leadership.”

Tusk is in Zagreb for a meeting of the European People’s Party, the main center-right bloc in the European Parliament. The Polish politician is expected to be elected the leader of the alliance during the two-day gathering.