26 March 2019 – The two-day State Visit of the President of the Republic of India Ram Nath Kovind, who is in the Republic of Croatia upon the invitation of the President of the Republic Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, commenced with an official welcoming ceremony at the Office of the President, a tête-à-tête with the Croatian President and a bilateral meeting of official delegations of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of India.
In her statement following the meeting, President Grabar-Kitarović noted that President Kovind is the first President of India to visit Croatia and that the links between Croatia and India go way back, thanks in part to Croatian indologist Filip Vezdin, the author of the first printed Sanskrit grammar. She expressed hope that the State Visit of President Kovind to Croatia “will serve as a good base for enhancing relations between our two countries, bring our people even closer together and encourage the strengthening of the overall bilateral relations.”
President Grabar-Kitarović said that Croatia supports strengthening of EU-India cooperation on higher education and welcomes the adoption of the EU-India Agenda for Action-2020, which contributed to the strengthening of ties between the EU and India, and therefore between Croatia and India as well.
“Mobility of students is an important element in expanding mutual understanding between the two sides and I am certain that the Program of Cultural Cooperation will stimulate greater cultural exchange and understanding between our people,” remarked the Croatian President.
In view of this, the following documents were signed at the Office of the President in the presence of the two leaders: Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of India on Tourism Cooperation; Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and University of Zagreb on the Establishment of the ICCR Chair for Sanskrit Language; extension of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and University of Zagreb on the Establishment of the ICCR Chair of Hindi; Memorandum of Understanding between the Faculty of Kinesiology of University of Zagreb and the Sports Authority of India.
The two Presidents agreed that it is necessary to strengthen economic cooperation, bilateral trade and mutual investments, in particular. The Croatian President expressed Croatia’s interest in exchanging experiences in the energy, ICT, defence and shipbuilding industries and the healthcare sector.
In reference to the Three Seas Initiative, connecting the Adriatic, Baltic and the Black Seas, President Grabar-Kitarović said that the Initiative is open to partnerships on specific projects with interested State or business actors from around the world who are committed to the fundamental values and principles of the European Union.
“Considering our geostrategic position in the EU as well as our proximity to main European markets, Croatia is taking on the responsibility to act as a strong link in the energy integration between Central, South and Eastern Europe,” President Grabar-Kitarović said, emphasizing that Croatia is promoting the Port of Rijeka as a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe and for its free trade zone. She added that Croatia would welcome the establishment of an Indian distribution centre in the Port of Rijeka.
India welcomes the fact that Croatia will soon assume the Presidency of the EU Council, said Indian President Kovind. “We attach great importance to relations with the European Union,” he remarked, stressing the importance of the European Union on the global stage. It is crucial for the European Union to be an anchor of global stability and security in today’s polarized world, he asserted.
President Kovind announced that a large business delegation arrived with him in Croatia and that he was looking forward to addressing the participants at the Croatian-Indian Business Forum on Wednesday. He urged Croatian companies to invest in India and recalled that Indian businesspeople have already invested in the pharmaceutical industry and the renewable energy sector in Croatia.
The two Presidents expressed satisfaction with the exchange of tourists. The Indian President said that the number of visitors to Croatia was “impressive,” including more than 64,000 tourists from India.
“Equally impressive,” President Kovind said is Croatia’s global sports success, which was, according to the President, followed with great interest in India.
This year, India, which is by its population the world’s largest democracy, is marking the 150th anniversary of birth of the ‘father of Indian independence.’ On this occasion, India is presenting Croatia with an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi, “the icon of peace,” said the President of India, adding that he was honoured to have been awarded the Grand Order of King Tomislav with Sash and Grand Star.
President Kovind thanked President Grabar-Kitarović for condemning the barbaric attack that was committed last month in India. India’s contributions in the fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalization are highly valued in the international arena, President Grabar-Kitarović emphasized. She added that India’s efforts in the areas of climate change, environmental protection, cybersecurity and protecting human rights are equally valued.