Malta's Foreign Minister Michael Frendo inCroatia
Foreign Minister Michael Frendo met Croatian President Stejpan Mesic at the Presidential Palace in Zagreb at the start of his official visit in Croatia last Tuesday.
President Mesic and Minister Frendo, while both making reference to the excellent bilateral relations between Malta and Croatia, discussed how to improve trade and investment interchange between the two countries. With regard to the tourism sector, they discussed the development of the cruise liner business and how both countries could collaborate to further the growth of this market in the Mediterranean.
Minister Frendo and President Mesic also spoke about possible collaboration between the transshipment operations in Malta and the ports of Croatia, particularly Rijeka. They agreed that strategically, in economic and business terms, besides being of interest to each other for their own markets, Malta could also act as the gateway to North Africa for Croatia and Croatia as Maltaâ€™s gateway to south-eastern Europe.
Dr Frendo reiterated Maltaâ€™s support for Croatiaâ€™s membership to the European Union and for the rapid opening of negotiation talks now that the framework for negotiations is approved.
President Mesic thanked Minister Frendo for Maltaâ€™s support in Croatiaâ€™s EU membership bid and said that he looked forward to seeing further increase in bilateral relations between two countries of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Minister Frendo also held talks with his counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, at the Croatian Foreign Ministry. They agreed to draft a protocol of collaboration between the two ministries which would include closer political cooperation and also the exchange of diplomats on short assignments in each otherâ€™s ministries. In this regard the Croatian Minister made reference to the fact that a number of Croatian diplomats had already been trained at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies at the University of Malta and that they had all considered that experience to have been very fruitful.
The two also explored ways in which Malta and Croatia can better promote the business opportunities that exist in their countries. They agreed that foreign direct investment in each otherâ€™s economies was to be encouraged and they agreed to invite business delegations to visit the respective countries. Minister Grabar-Kitarovic said that Croatian companies had also expressed interest in investing in Malta in the electronic component sector.
The foreign ministers agreed that other prospects could include collaboration in the tourism sector with respect to the Mediterranean market, investment and trade relating to the pharmaceutical industry and trans-shipment. Croatian Minister Grabar-Kitarovic suggested collaboration between Universities particularly in exchange of students in fields such as archaeology, history and philosophy.
Talks also centred on Croatiaâ€™s application to join the European Union. The ministers discussed the action plan which Croatia has set out in relation to full collaboration with the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) in bringing to justice the fugitive former General Gotovina. Ms Grabar-Kitarovic explained how a new Interior Minister had just been appointed and how measures had been and are continuously being taken to further tighten controls in the quest to bring the fugitive General Gotovina to justice.
Minister Frendo invited Minister Grabar-Kitarovic to visit Malta. After the bilateral meeting the two ministers addressed members of the press.
During his visit to Croatia, Dr Frendo also had a working lunch with Croatiaâ€™s Prime Minister Ivo Sanader at the Prime Ministerâ€™s offices in Zagreb, in the presence of Foreign Minister Grabar-Kitarovic and other officials of the Prime Ministerâ€™s office and the Foreign Ministry. Discussions again centred on European Union issues and on increase of trade and investment between Malta and Croatia. Prime Minister Sanader agreed that Maltese and Croatian entrepreneurs should collaborate in trade and investment in North African markets and in each otherâ€™s countries.
He renewed his invitation for Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to visit Croatia as soon as his schedule allowed him.