Indian President Welcomes Croatia’s Coming EU Presidency

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ZAGREB, March 27, 2019 – India welcomes Croatia’s coming presidency of the European Union, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said on Tuesday in Zagreb where he, together with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, underlined the importance of strengthening bilateral relations, notably the economic ties, with Grabar-Kitarović urging India to open a distribution centre in the Port of Rijeka.

Kovind, who is the first Indian president ever to visit Croatia, first held meeting with Grabar Kitarović after which the two presidents attended the signing of four cooperation agreements.

Relations with the European Union are very important to us, Kovind told a news conference he held together with Grabar-Kitarović.

He said he was looking forward to the first half of 2020 when Croatia is scheduled to preside over the bloc, saying this would be a framework for stepping up cooperation. It is important for the European Union to be the anchor of the global security in this polarised world, Kovind said.

Given Croatia’s geo-strategic position within the European Union, Croatia has “assumed responsibility to act as a strong link in connecting, energy wise, central, southern and eastern Europe,” the Croatian president said.

This is about promoting the Port of Rijeka as an entry point into the central and eastern Europe and a free trade zone, she said. “I briefed the president in that context so that we could welcome the setting up of India’s distribution centre in the Port of Rijeka,” Grabar-Kitarović said.

Kovind said he arrived in Croatia accompanied by a large business delegation, stressing that he was looking forward to the Croatia-India business forum where he is expected to address those present.

He urged Croatian companies to invest in India, recalling that India’s business people had already made investments in Croatia’s pharmaceutical sector and renewables. “We are interested in exchanging experience in the energy, ICT, defence, shipbuilding and health sectors,” the Croatian president said.

The two head of states expressed satisfaction with the exchange of tourists. The Indian president said that the overall number of tourists visiting Croatia was impressing, adding that 64,000 Indian tourists visited Croatia last year.

One of the four agreements signed on Tuesday was the agreement regulating cooperation in the tourism sector, signed by Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli and Indian Ambassador to Croatia Arindam Bagchi.

Kovind said that Croatia’s global sports successes were equally impressive, expressing hope that an agreement between the Zagreb-headquartered Faculty of Kinesiology and the Sports Authority of India (SAI), also signed in Zagreb on Tuesday, would lead to a joint initiative aimed at advancing sports capacities.

Croatia and India on Tuesday renewed the existing agreement on cooperation pertaining to the department of Hindi at the University of Zagreb.

India, the world’s largest democracy according to the population, this year is marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of the father of India’s independence – Mahatma Gandhi.

As a memento of that occasion India is giving Croatia a bust of Mahatma Gandhi as a gift, Kovind said, adding that he was honoured to have received the highest Croatian state decoration. He also thanked the Croatian president for having condemned a barbaric attack committed in India last month.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Tuesday received the visiting Indian President Ram Nath Kovind for the talks on boosting bilateral relations, the Croatian government said in a press release.

Plenković highlighted the fact that Kovind was the first Indian head of state to visit Croatia since its independence, adding that this visit can serve as a reference point for the further promotion of bilateral relations.

Kovind was quoted as saying that he was glad to visit Croatia with which India has been developing good and friendly relations for a long time. He called for the intensification of economic cooperation between the two countries, primarily in the sectors of IT, tourism and culture.

More news about relations between Croatia and India can be found in the Politics section.


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