Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando who visited Croatia last week pledged to strengthen bilateral trade relations with Croatia with the early conclusion of the Agreement on Investment Protection and Promotion. The Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula accepted Minister Fernando's invitation to visit Sri Lanka in December this year with a business delegation in order to identify key areas of economic cooperation, a press release said.
The two delegations also agreed to work towards the early conclusion of the Agreements on Air Services, Maritime Cooperation, Avoidance of Double Taxation and Cultural and Sports Cooperation.
The Sri Lankan delegation expressed interest in promoting the sale of Ceylon tea, furniture and textile to Croatia while the Croatian side expressed interest in promoting their pharmaceutical products, shipbuilding and fisheries sectors. Minister Fernando also expressed interest in establishing linkages between the higher educational institutes and diplomatic academies of the two countries.
The two Foreign Ministers discussed regional, international and other issues of mutual interest, including Croatia's proposed accession to the European Union in the future.
During his meeting with the Croatian President, Minister Fernando referred to the similarities between Sri Lanka and Croatia both being small, democratic states strategically located to become the gateways to South Asia and the European Union respectively.
During his meeting with the Deputy President of the Croatian Parliament, the Foreign Minister discussed among other issues, the possibility of exchange of Parliamentary Groups from the two countries.
Sri Lanka and Croatia established diplomatic relations in 1997 and the Foreign Ministries of the two countries last year signed a Protocol on Consultations whereby the two sides agreed to maintain regular dialogue on matters of mutual interest.
The Croatian Foreign Minister and the President undertook official visits to Sri Lanka in May 2001 and in November 2002 respectively.