ZAGREB /Croatia/, February 20. /TASS/. Croatia’s EU and NATO membership will not prevent the country from maintaining good relations with Russia, Croatian Deputy Foreign Minister Gordan Bakota said in an interview with TASS.
"We consider Russia to be a significant factor of stability, particularly in southeastern Europe. In this regard, I believe that our NATO and EU membership does not mean we can’t maintain good relations with Russia, and I am glad to note that this fact was emphasized during political consultations between the Croatian and Russian foreign ministries in Zagreb," the deputy foreign minister said.
When asked if Croatian authorities had interests related to Russia different from those of the European Union, Bakova said that "it is perfectly clear that from the political point of view, we are all members of the European Union and NATO." "But apart from pursuing EU’s policy, we also develop it as one of the 28 member states. Of course, as far as the EU membership is concerned, there are some priorities and boundaries set for Croatia’s foreign policy but I would like to stress that it doesn’t mean that our relations with Russia cannot be good. If we want to hear each other and exchange views, we should have a permanent channel of communication between Zagreb and Moscow," the Croatian diplomat noted.
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said earlier that she had had "a very positive and hearty" meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Council. She added that she expected meaningful dialogue to continue. "I expect continuous dialogue and mutual respect," Grabar-Kitarovic said. "We have been maintaining good, meaningful relations for many years and we have always been sincere with each other," she added.