Cyprus is supporting Croatia's aspirations to join the European Union and is ready to help the Balkans country in accession talks through its own experiences, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said here on Friday.
"Cyprus has supported Croatia's aspiration to join the (European) Union and it has supported the commencement of negotations," with the 25-nation-bloc, Iacovou told journalists.
Iacovou, who spoke after meeting his Croatian counterpart Mimior Zuzul, offered to share with Zagreb his country's experiences in accession talks.
"Croatia is a Mediterranean country like ourselves and it is in our own interest that the expansion of the European Union also goes to the south and Mediterranean countries."
Croatia was recently granted official EU candidate status and is to start accession talks early next year. It hopes to join the bloc in 2007, along with Bulgaria and Romania.
The divided island of Cyprus, represented by its internationally recognized Greek Cypriot side, joined the EU on May 1 along with nine other countries.
Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkey occupied the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
A last-ditch effort to reunify Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities before EU accession failed in April when Greek Cypriots rejected a UN peace plan that Turkish Cypriots endorsed.
"We will not turn our backs to the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the (Cyprus) problem and hope that this will be soon rather than later," Iacovou said on Friday.
Iacovou, on a one-day visit to Zagreb, also met President Stipe Mesic and Prime Minister Ivo Sanader.