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ZAGREB, September 27. /TASS/. Russia remains one of Croatia’s most promising partners in economy, science and culture, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said on Sunday.
"We are interested in expanding economic, trade, scientific and technical cooperation with Russia", Pusic, who also serves as the first deputy prime minister, told TASS.
"Economy is a high priority sphere", Pusic said. "Croatian companies are seeking cooperation with Russian firms. The Russian market is one of the most attractive for our economic agents."
At the same time, Pusic added, "Russian firms and businessmen are welcome" in Croatia.
Pusic said she could see considerable reserves for broader cooperation between Russia and Croatia in developing direct contacts between business communities, research and development centres, and cultural institutions of the two countries.
"We should cooperate not only at the level governments but, first of all, at the level of enterprises, firms, institutions and universities, as well as citizens. The biggest potential lies in establishing and strengthening direct contacts", Pusic said.
"Apart from economy, priority spheres here are science, education and certainly culture. These fields are extremely important", she said, noting that Zagreb would support initiatives aimed at developing direct trade-economic and scientific-technical links.
Cooperation in culture helps strengthen the whole complex of Russian-Croatian relations and increases mutual understanding between citizens of Russia and Croatia, Pusic added.
"Tourism provides wonderful opportunities for citizens’ communication and common understanding. Russian tourists are welcome in Croatia. They are very important for us. We are looking forward to the opportunity to raise the number of tourists from Russia", said Pusic.
Croatia’s top diplomat recalled that the two nations had had a positive experience of visa-free travel. Visas for Russian citizens were introduced after the republic joined the European Union.
"Unfortunately, we cannot continue this practice [of visa-free exchange]. This is contrary to norms existing in the EU", she said. "But we have more than 20 visa centres in Russia and we are trying to make visa application process for tourists as easy as possible."
In early September, the Croatian government decided to nominate Pusic for the post of the United Nations secretary-general.
Since its founding 70 years ago, the United Nations has been led by men. The post tends to rotate among regions and in that system Eastern Europe has never provided a secretary-general. Political analysts therefore forecast that the next U.N. chief - to be elected to succeed Ban-Ki-moon in 2016 - would most likely be a woman from Eastern Europe.