Press Conferences

2 march, 2010 16:30

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor make statements for the press after the Russian-Croatian talks

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor make statements for the press after the Russian-Croatian talks
Russia considers Croatia to be its important and reliable partner in the Balkans and in Europe as a whole, Mr Putin said, adding that the talks had been highly successful. In turn, Ms Kosor said that they had discussed economic, energy and cultural cooperation, as well as the current and future dialogue on the South Stream.

Vladimir Putin: Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just finished talks with our Croatian colleagues and friends, the Croatian delegation that arrived in Moscow under the leadership of Ms Kosor.

We appreciate the commitment of our Croatian colleagues to promoting multilateral and diverse cooperation with Russia. Our meeting today took place in the atmosphere of openness and trust, and was very productive.

Russia considers Croatia to be its important and reliable partner in the Balkans and in Europe as a whole.

We have discussed in detail the entire agenda of Russian-Croatian relations and I'd like to note that they are intensive and diverse.

Our economic contacts have been developing successfully over the past few years. In 2008 our trade turnover reached $2 billion. It has decreased considerably because of the global economic downturn and we should now impart a fresh impetus to our relations. We can do this by diversifying our contacts, developing investment cooperation and implementing major projects.

I'm referring to the energy industry and infrastructure. The South Stream is one of these major projects. As you know this project has received broad international support. Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Serbia and Slovenia have already joined the project. All participants in the project, including Croatia, which has joined it today, will obviously stand to gain from it. The project will guarantee the stability of energy supplies to Europe and bring purely economic advantages to its participants.

We have also discussed the prospects of integrating the Druzhba (Friendship) and Adria oil pipelines.

Apart from energy, today we have discussed the trade and cooperation in many spheres, including investment.

I believe that telecommunications, metallurgy, tourism and modern technology are promising spheres for investment.

A new agreement on economic, scientific and technical cooperation is a good foundation for upgrading cooperation with Croatia.

The Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation is playing a major role in our contacts. We have agreed that it will hold its next meeting in Croatia this year.

We have also discussed in detail such an important subject as cultural contacts: expansion of tourism and youth and cultural exchanges. I am confident that the intergovernmental agreement on mutual visits by citizens will promote them. Croatia has granted Russian citizens the right to visit it visa-free from May until the end of October.

I'd like to mention the Days of Russian Culture to be held in Croatia this year and preparations for the Days of Croatian Culture in Russia next year.

On the whole, I'd like to say that the talks were highly successful. I am grateful to Ms Kosor and other Croatian colleagues for their contribution to our joint work today.

Thank you.

Jadranka Kosor (as translated): I'd like to thank Prime Minister Putin and other colleagues for the cordial reception. I agree with Mr Putin that these talks have been very successful and productive.

As it was mentioned earlier, today we have discussed economic, energy and cultural cooperation and the current and future dialogue on the South Stream.

Personally I'm very glad that we have managed to come to terms and sign three agreements today. The agreement On Economic and Technical Cooperation guarantees the legal and all other foundations for economic cooperation in all areas, starting with agriculture.

I would also like to single out the agreement On the Construction and Exploitation of a Gas Pipeline on Croatian Territory, which creates a legal basis for Croatia's involvement in the South Stream. This agreement allows the sides to set up a 50/50 joint venture.

Obviously, we will have to discuss many details but Croatia considers this agreement very important because it will guarantee its gas supplies.

By signing this agreement Croatia joins the project's other participants, the countries that are already European Union (EU) members. I am saying this because, as you know, Croatia is about to join the EU.

We have also discussed the extension of the agreement with Gazprom, which expires at the end of this year. I'd like to mention only one aspect that is very important for Croatia - increase in gas supplies.

We have discussed the Druzhba and Adria projects as part of our energy cooperation. My colleagues and their Russian counterparts will continue the discussion on this issue. We have already managed to lay a good foundation here and I hope this will determine our future success in this sphere.

We have pointed to a number of opportunities for cooperation on economic projects, where we really need assistance. We have some companies, for instance, Nexe Grupa, that are planning to build a cement plant in Russia. This project requires a 350 million euro investment.

We have also asked the prime minister to confirm his intention to help our Koncar, a manufacturer of municipal trains and trams. We also need help for our Ulanik Shipyard, which already has signed contracts for the construction of six major ferries for transporting cars.

This shipyard is in a predicament and needs investment. The same is true of other Croatian shipyards, which have already received contracts for building 100 vessels for the fishing fleet.

Tourism is a separate issue. We are ready for any proposals of cooperation. In this context I have already told Mr Putin about our government's decision to grant Russian citizens visa-free travel in the spring and summer of this year.

We believe that the level of our economic cooperation is not bad but there is always room for improvement.

I have told Mr Putin that the Croatian Chamber of Commerce is planning to open its office in Moscow next June. There is a chance that your prime minister and I will attend this event together.

Let me express once again our deep gratitude on behalf of our delegation and my own behalf for the cordial reception accorded to us by the Russian leadership.