Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Qatar and Croatia to Develop Closer Economic Cooperation

ZAGREB, November 20, 2018 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met on Monday with the visiting Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalif Al Thani, and the two officials said that their countries were interested in closer economic cooperation and more investments, the government said in a statement.

Prime Minister Plenković and Sheikh Al Thani confirmed the excellent and friendly political relations between Croatia and Qatar.

The Croatian prime minister pointed to the importance of further advancing bilateral relations and stepping up investments and trade with Qatar.

In the same vein, eight bilateral agreements were signed between Croatia and Qatar earlier in the day, regulating cooperation in culture and sports, agriculture, education and research, and in the defence and other sectors.

With regard to the two countries' cooperation in the field of energy and diversification of energy sources, Plenković and Al Thani discussed the importance of further developing the LNG terminal project on the island of Krk.

The Qatari emir assessed as positive a significant increase in the number of Qataris visiting Croatia, noting that there was great potential for cooperation in many areas.

He extended an invitation for Prime Minister Plenković to officially visit Qatar, which Plenković accepted, the statement said.

Speaker of Parliament Gordan Jandroković also received the visiting Qatari emir, and on that occasion the Croatian official expressed confidence that this reciprocal official visit would be conducive to efforts to boost bilateral relations, the press office of the Croatian parliament stated.

The two officials agreed that good political relations between the two countries and exchange of visits of office holders paved the way for broadening cooperation in many fields.

Bilateral relations will be further boosted by the conclusion of bilateral agreements, notably on the economic front. In this context, Jandroković and Al Thani welcomed the growing statistics about Qataris visiting Croatia.

They exchanged opinions on regional security.

The Croatian parliament speaker accepted with pleasure the invitation of the Qatari emir to visit that Gulf country.

For more on Croatia’s politics, click here.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Qatari Emir Visits Zagreb, Meets with President

ZAGREB, November 19, 2018 - The friendly and positive relations between Croatia and Qatar are accompanied by a rise in bilateral trade and it can be further enhanced, a process in which a prominent role can be played by the Croatian community in that Arab country, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said after their meeting in Zagreb on Monday.

Sheikh Al Thani arrived in the Croatian capital for a two-day return visit after Croatia's head of state visited that Persian Gulf country in April 2017.

During their meeting in Zagreb, the two state officials also discussed regional policies and issues that make the present-day world unstable. "Our bilateral political relations are friendly and positive, but for them to be enhanced and strengthened, it is necessary to intensify the contacts in all fields of cooperation," the Croatian president said. "I firmly believe that the development of bilateral relations with the countries of the Persian Gulf will be of great importance for Croatia," she added.

Qatari Emir Al Thani agreed with her and commended the presence of Croatian businesses in Qatar. I would like to point out that Croatian companies doing business in Qatar give a great contribution, he said.

The 500-strong Croatian community in Qatar can serve as a link between the two nations and a bridge between our two countries, Grabar-Kitarović said.

The two officials cited energy, food production, construction industry, health industry, tourism and high technology as sectors where bilateral cooperation could be boosted. Croatia is set to attract Qatari investments in tourism, notably medical tourism, and in food production as well as in the defence industry, urban development, infrastructure and the petrochemical industry.

Croatia-Qatar trade increasing

In 2017, the Croatia-Qatar trade totalled 63.9 million dollars, up 3.4% from 2016. Croatia's exports increased by 16.39% to 62.9 million dollars, and imports from that Gulf country to Croatia soared by 80.87% to a million dollars. When it comes to tourist trade, in 2017 a total of 4,957 Qataris visited Croatia, a rise of 365% year on year.

Grabar-Kitarović expressed hope that Qatari citizens would perceive Croatia as an increasingly desirable tourist destination. In this context, she underscored that a great number of Croatian hotels, restaurants and food companies had halal certificates.

Emir Al Thani agreed with the president, expressing hope that the number of Qataris visiting Croatia would increase. In the first ten months of 2018, the number of Qatari guests rose by 49.4% to 5,963.

The emir congratulated Croatia on having won the silver medal at the Football World Cup in Russia this summer, and expressed hope that he would welcome Croatia's president in Qatar in 2022 when his country hosts that tournament.

Qatar is in principle interested in investments and cooperation regarding the future LNG terminal off the Croatian island of Krk, but the two officials did not elaborate on this topic after today's talks.

The wealthy Persian Gulf emirate has the world's third biggest gas reserves.

Agreements and memorandums

After the talks between the two leaders and the two countries' official delegations, eight agreements and memorandums were signed – an agreement on cultural cooperation, an agreement on the cancellation of visa requirements for bearers of diplomatic and special passports, and memorandums of understanding between the Universities of Zagreb and Qatar, the two countries' defence ministries, on cooperation in education and scientific research, and on cooperation in sports and agriculture.

An agreement on cooperation and mutual exchange of news reports between the Croatian and Qatari news agencies was signed by Hina director Branka Gabrijela Vojvodić and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

President Grabar-Kitarovic said that she was very pleased that her office had donated a collection of books to the National Library of Qatar, officially opened on 16 April 2018. It is one of the biggest libraries in the Arab world, with more than a million books, rare manuscripts, and written cultural and historical heritage.

She wished Qatar success in organising the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

During his reciprocal visit to Croatia, Al Thani is also expected to meet with Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

For more on relations between Qatar and Croatia, click here.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Qatari Emir to Visit Croatia on Monday

ZAGREB, November 18. 2018 - The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, will arrive in Croatia for a visit on Monday, the Office of the President of Croatia said on Friday, at a time when Croatia has still not decided on a supplier of gas for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to be built on the island of Krk. The Qatari emir is coming to Zagreb for a reciprocal visit, after President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited Doha in April 2017.

Qatar has shown interest in building and supplying gas for a floating LNG terminal, a strategic project of Croatia and the EU that should be put into operation in 2021 and reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

Despite relatively frequent top-level meetings and a visit by Qatari experts to Croatia, the two governments have still not made any concrete deal regarding the LNG terminal project, which has been delayed for years. "If we do not begin building it, energy and other routes will bypass us," Grabar-Kitarović said during her visit to Doha.

"So far, we have been the reason for this situation. We decided to build the terminal at the same time when Poland did. Their terminal started operating a year ago, while we have still not started building ours," Grabar-Kitarović said at the time.

The LNG Hrvatska company in early November chose a Norwegian bid for the floating terminal, which is actually a vessel for liquefied gas. The supplier of gas for the future terminal has not been chosen yet.

Qatar has the world's third biggest gas reserves, and in 2017 the world's biggest gas field, South Fars, owned by Qatar and Iran, was opened. Energy products account for 90% of Qatar's exports and for more than 75% of its budget revenue. The emirate has around 2.5 million inhabitants, of whom 310,000 are Qataris.

Apart from Grabar-Kitarović, Sheikh Al Thani will also meet with Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

For more on the LNG terminal, click here.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

President Visits Qatar

Croatian President is in a political-business mission to Qatar.