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Oman 2014 | DIPLOMACY | VIP INTERVIEW

Ivo Josipović, President of the Republic of Croatia, on the strong relations between Croatia and Oman, which go far beyond trade.

Croatia is a European country whose geostrategic position, natural resources, and human capital represent a good basis for the development of a society that appreciates work, knowledge, and creativity. Croatia's accession to the EU on July 1, 2013 marked the most important stage in the process of Croatia's political, economic, and social internationalisation. We have become part of a market of 500 million people. This is a position that can bring Croatia and its partners outside the EU a significant benefit since this adds the capacities of different markets and creates opportunities that Croatia, realistically speaking, could not have up to now. Now is the right time to use this leeway, together with our friends and partners in the world—Oman certainly being one of them—for the further development and advancement of our relations.

WHAT DOES CROATIA WANT?

We want to additionally improve our competitiveness in strategic transport, energy, food production, and the creation of new knowledge. We want to significantly strengthen our service sector, industrial production, and commerce. We also want to open ourselves up as a market and we want to open new markets for our products.

“Our two countries share a good geographic position, favorable climate, a long seafaring tradition, rich cultural heritage, and an ecological conscience."

WHAT DOES CROATIA OFFER?

In addition to easier access to the European and global markets, we offer a modern transport infrastructure, safe business environment, encouraging investment climate, educated labor force, and high quality of life.

Croatian companies have enormous and relevant experience in the construction of infrastructural facilities, which has been confirmed in a number of successfully realized projects worldwide. To all those who have visited Croatia in recent years at least once, it is clear that we have one of the most modern motorway networks in Europe. Croatia's construction industry has proved its expertise in civil engineering and building construction, and I am confident that it can meet the demands of the Omani market.

I am aware that the Omani side has, several times, expressed its interest in the use of Croatia's air and seaports. A project of modernization and development of the port of Rijeka is underway. This includes development of the port's transshipment and commercial facilities, a passenger port, a boating center, and accompanying commercial and tourist facilities. Opportunities for investment are arising as well as for some other ways of using the capacities of the port of Rijeka and its entire transport direction. It is possible to use the benefits of a free zone there.

In relation to this, it is necessary to refer to Osijek Airport and its opportunities for the development of cargo transport. Here, as well as in other areas, Croatia expects Omani entrepreneurs and Omani capital with its doors being wide open.

Croatia can be an interesting partner to Oman in the sector of energy transport and the energy trade. Croatia has plans for the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal on the island of Krk—Omani investors and suppliers are welcome.

Our two countries share a good geographic position, favorable climate, a long seafaring tradition, rich cultural heritage, and an ecological conscience; all these elements are integrated in the development of Croatia's tourism sector. To its Omani partners, Croatia offers opportunities for investments in its tourism infrastructure. We remain open for exchanges of experience and know-how, in particular in the area of medical tourism, for which our Omani friends have earlier expressed their interest.

I am acquainted with Oman's policy of providing its citizens with the opportunity to acquire knowledge abroad. Croatia has quality programs, in particular in the field of medicine and engineering, which are open to foreign students. Personally, I would like if students from Oman were among them. In our previous contacts, Oman expressed its need for experts in archaeology, in particular underwater research. In this sense, still unexplored archaeological sites in Oman represent a major opportunity for cooperation with our archaeological experts.

Regardless of their geographical distance, Croatia and Oman have a political dialogue of high quality and significance. Croatia wants to support it with a strong economic partnership. In this context, this editorial is a political pledge for stronger and more comprehensive cooperation between Croatia and Oman in the future.

During earlier bilateral talks and contacts, we could identify the areas of interest of both countries, ranging from the development of infrastructure, energy, and tourism to cooperation in science and education. Now is the time to identify the concrete projects that we want to develop within these areas. The initiated dialogue between Croatia and Oman can be moved to a new strategic level. All future efforts focused on this will enjoy my full support.

Finally, the relations between countries cannot be reduced to their mutual trade, however important it may be. Contacts among people contribute to making the bonds between states stronger. Therefore, I am very pleased that Omani tourists have discovered Croatia and that they visit Croatia in increasing numbers—they are our welcome, appreciated, and dear guests whom we receive with open and sincere hearts. I am looking forward to every opportunity for cultural exchanges and I wish to see more of them in the future, since both Croatia and Oman have plenty to offer to each other in this respect as well.

© The Business Year - August 2013