President Grabar-Kitarović Meets with Croatian Community Living in Azerbaijan

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The President starts her three-day visit to Azerbaijan.

Croatian President Kolinda-Grabar-Kitarović arrived on Sunday in a three-day visit to Azerbaijan. She began her visit with a meeting with Croatian nationals who live and work in the country, reports Novi List on October 24, 2016.

“I want to thank you for everything you do here, the way you represent Croatia. You are certainly the best ambassadors of your homeland”, said the President, who will on Monday meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Relations between Croatia and Azerbaijan are “friendly, we have no open issues, but I think there is a huge untapped potential for further cooperation, especially in the economy”, said Grabar-Kitarović.

The President expressed her confidence that the visit and talks with President Aliyev and other officials, as well as a business forum on Tuesday, “would contribute to co-operation”, adding that Croatia wanted to cooperate in the fields of trade, investments, energy, technology, food processing, shipbuilding, transportation and tourism. Azerbaijan has rich reserves of oil and natural gas which make up 95 percent of its exports.

In addition to the meeting with Aliyev, the President will also meet with Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and Speaker of Parliament Ogtaj Assadov, and she will also give a lecture at the Diplomatic Academy. On Tuesday, together with President Aliyev, she will participate in the Azerbaijani-Croatian economic forum, which is expected to be attended by representatives of about 35 Croatian and a hundred Azerbaijani companies.

Refik Šabanović, head of the Interim Office of the Republic of Croatia in Azerbaijan – which the President said should soon be turned into an embassy – said that the President’s visit was important because it would “open the doors to Croatian businessmen in Baku, since this market is still in economic growth”. Since Azerbaijan does have an embassy in Zagreb, it would be very stimulating for business cooperation for Croatia to open its embassy here, said Šabanović.

Šabanović presented to the President members of the Croatian community who mostly work in oil companies, but noted that there were several athletes and sports officials, particularly the manager of the Azerbaijani national football team Robert Prosinečki and Siniša Popek, a volleyball coach who works in Baku.

Azerbaijan is a country with just over nine million inhabitants, of which more than ninety percent are Muslim Shiites. Iran and Azerbaijan are the only two countries in which Shiites are the majority population. The capital Baku officially has more than two million inhabitants, although there are reportedly many more people living there.


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