ZAGREB, Oct 2 (Hina) – Croatian citizens will soon be able to travel to the US without visas, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Hina on Friday during his visit to the southern coastal city of Dubrovnik.
The abolishment of visas for the Croatians can be expected in the coming months.
Asked when Croatia and the US would sign the Visa Waiver Program, Pompeo said he hoped this would happen very soon, in the coming months. He stopped short of specifying the exact date.
There is still some paperwork to be done, administrative things, some of which should be done by us and some are up to the Croatian leadership. We have discussed them with Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman, and I am sure we will discuss this matter with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, he added.
Pompeo admitted that the visa regime and double taxation made doing business for Croatian entrepreneurs in the US more difficult. They are also obstacles for US investment in Croatia, he said.
I believe the double taxation convention will be concluded. We can now exchange the drafts, which is a very good sign, Pompeo told Hina.
On Wednesday, the Croatian government initiated the procedure for the conclusion of this convention.
Pompeo also commented on the investment climate in Croatia and Europe, saying that whenever US officials come to Europe and places where they know they share the same values of fair market competition, it does not help to see the Chinese Communist Party being treated differently from a European or American company. This puts people off from investing their capital in Croatia, Pompeo said.
I am optimistic that things will improve in that regard. We want to be here, we want to be active, he concluded.
US Administration stable despite Trump’s coronavirus infection
Pompeo also said that the US government remained extremely stable despite the fact that President Donald Trump had got infected with the coronavirus.
We hope that First Lady Melania and the president will recover soon, they are well so far. The American government remains extremely stable, Pompeo said in an interview for Hina.
It is not yet known how much Trump’s infection would affect the election campaign and his efforts to win a second term in office.
There are 30 days until the election, we believe that people in America have a clear choice and that they will have the opportunity to make their choice in four weeks, Pompeo said. The US presidential election is scheduled for November 3.
US President said Thursday night that he and his wife Melania were positive for coronavirus. Neither of them is showing symptoms and they are both in self-isolation.
After Trump said that he was positive for coronavirus, Pompeo and his wife were tested for coronavirus on the plane to Dubrovnik and both tested negative.
Secretary of State last met with Trump on September 15 in the White House. This is the fourth time in two weeks that he underwent testing and he tested negative every time.
Pompeo: Choice of fighter jets is a sovereign decision for Croatia
Pompeo said on Friday that the choice of fighter jets was a sovereign decision for Croatia, at a time when Croatia is choosing between four offers, including one made by the United States.
As for the F-16 aircraft, that is a sovereign decision for the Croatian leadership and I have no doubt that it will be good, Pompeo said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Dubrovnik.
He said he was proud of American products and that the US would financially support the US bid.
Croatia is buying 12 aircraft for its Air Force and has received four bids. The US is offering the new F-16 Block 70, Sweden is offering the new Gripen C/D, while France and Israel are offering two used models – Rafal and F-16 Block 30 respectively.
Plenkovic said that they had “mentioned” this matter at the meeting, adding that the selection process was ongoing and the bids were being evaluated.
President Zoran Milanovic said on Thursday that Pompeo was coming for a visit to try and “dump” F-16 aircraft, reiterating that in different circumstances the US offer would be a priority, but that in this case the decision would be a political one.
Secretary of State is on a day-long visit to Croatia as the highest official of the American administration since Donald Trump became US President, and this is the first time the head of the American diplomacy visited Croatia in eight years after Hillary Clinton was here in 2012.