Zagreb - Croatia recognises Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and will continue with this policy also as a member of the European Union, Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko said on Friday in Baku, as carried by Azerbaijani media.
Azerbaijan has been in conflict with Armenia since 1988 due to Armenia's aspirations to the Azeri Nagorno Karabah province. Leko said he understood the importance of preserving Azerbaijan's integrity, stressing that Croatia is inclined toward the EU's stance of not recognising the self-proclaimed independence of Nagorno Karabah. - We completely support your efforts to achieve a peaceful solution. That's the stance we will take in the European Union too, said Leko as reported by the Azerbaijan Press Agency. He recalled that Croatia had experienced a process of peaceful reintegration of its territory and expressed hope that Azerbaijan's principled policy will bear fruit.
- As a member of the EU, Croatia supports the stance of the Minsk group in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to resolve the conflict in Nagorno Karabah. Croatia will not recognise any attempts to hold a unilateral referendum. We support a peaceful solution to the conflict in keeping with international law, the agency quoted Leko as saying.
Croatia's Parliament Speaker is on an official visit to Azerbaijan where he met with President Ilham Aliyev, Parliament Speaker Ogtaj Asadov and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, the Croatian Sabor reported on Friday. During the talks, it was pointed out that Croatia and Azerbaijan have friendly relations that need to be advanced with stronger economic cooperation. President Aliyev congratulated Croatia on becoming a full member of the European Union, saying that this opened opportunities to strengthen cooperation not just through bilateral relations but through multilateral relations with the European Union too.
- Croatia is an important partner to Azerbaijan, which we showed with the opening of an embassy in Zagreb. That was the first embassy we opened in a country of the former Yugoslavia, President Aliyev said during his meeting with Leko, adding that he expected Croatia to soon open its embassy in Baku. When it comes to economic relations, Aliyev said that Croatia would be part of Azerbaijan's cooperation with the EU to construct the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline (TAP) which will bring gas from the Caspian Sea to the Adriatic Sea.Leko said that within the European Union, Croatia would be a partner to Azerbaijan and that it would support the Eastern Partnership and easier issuance of visas. Leko said that a political decision to open an embassy in that country had already been made and that it was now only a technical and financial matter. He pointed out the possibility of developing economic cooperation not just in the field of energy but also in tourism, agriculture and the food industry, culture and science, shipbuilding and other industrial branches.
Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Asadov expressed confidence that with Croatia's joining the European Union, his country would have yet another friendly state in that association. He hopes that the agreement on economic cooperation that the two countries signed would soon be put into operation and that an inter-state commission would be founded.
Foreign Minister Mammadyarov underscored the possibilities of economic investments in Croatia not just in crude oil that Azerbaijan exports but also through the TAP project, in tourism and Croatian ports. The possibility of cooperation in shipbuilding has been opened because, as Mammadyarov said, Azerbaijan has already purchased 14 ferries from the Pula-based Uljanik shipyard and future projects may be possible.
All these negotiations will be much easier once Croatia opens its embassy in Baku, he said, adding that he hoped that would be soon. (Hina)