TODAY.AZ / Politics

Croatian deputy PM: Seasonal direct flights from Baku to Zagreb are feasible next year

29 April 2019 [10:00] - TODAY.AZ

Trend’s exclusive interview with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia Marija Pejcinovic Buricon the occasion of her visit to Azerbaijan

Question: How do you assess the current status of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Croatia?

Answer: Let me reiterate that Croatia considers Azerbaijan an important strategic partner. Our partnership and friendly bilateral relations were further confirmed on the highest level during the official visit of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to Zagreb last year on the 6th of September. Therefore, we would like to further encourage more intensive exchanges between our state bodies, businesses, and citizens.

Q.: Does the existing level of trade turnover between the two countries satisfactory? What are the ways of boosting the mutual trade turnover?

A.: We will continue to hold annual or biennial meetings of our bilateral cooperation enhancement engines, such as the Joint Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation between Croatia and Azerbaijan, which will organize its next meeting in late 2019 or early 2020. It is our strong belief that this Commission can serve as a foundation to increase our bilateral trade in many areas of mutual interest and we seek to include more companies in its work. A working group to better prepare for the next Commission session has been formed and also comprises a number of companies that are planning to do business with Azerbaijan. The formation of specialized working groups (i.e. for energy issues, tourism, etc.) operating within the Commission will likely take place before its next meeting.

Q.: How do you see the prospects for cooperation between Azerbaijan and Croatia in ports industry?

A.: In Croatia we have a number of sea ports as well as a number of ports in inland waterways. Possibilities of cooperation between Croatian and Azerbaijani ports could include signing of cooperation agreements (as well as concession possibilities for passenger and freight operators). I would like to mention that the Port of Vukovar has through the Danube River the possibility to connect Central Europe and the Black sea (the Heart of Eurasia).

Q.: Which spheres seem to be more promising in Croatia and Azerbaijan in terms of attracting mutual investments?

A.: The Croatian business community and companies are especially interested in investments in energy, transport, shipbuilding, pharmaceutical and the IT sectors. Possibilities also exist in construction and engineering, the textile, agriculture and food industries, rolling stock vehicles and, of course, tourism. When it comes to Croatian investments, usually it is about investing knowledge and know-how and this is the model we expect most future joint ventures to be structured upon, especially in the area of IT.

Q.: Croatia is expected to receive Azerbaijani gas via the Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP). How much gas per year do you expect to get via IAP? Which percent of Croatia’s gas demand will be covered thanks to IAP gas?

A.: There is a belief that major leaps forward can be made in forthcoming years in the field of energy due to the significance of the Ionian-Adriatic Pipeline for Europe. The planned capacity of IAP is 5 bcm/y of which 2.5 bcm/y is expected for Croatia and transport towards other developed markets in CE & CEE (the rest is intended for markets in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro).

The Ionic-Adriatic pipeline Project Management Unit (PMU) meeting was held on the sidelines of the 5th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council ministerial meeting on 20 February 2019 in Baku. The PMU concluded that the legal framework for the establishment of the Project Company is almost completed, so we are confident that the IAP Project Company will be established soon.

Q.: Are any visits expected between the two countries in coming months? If yes, what is the purpose of those visits?

A.: I assume that the meetings which I will have in Baku will yield ideas and proposals for the next high level meetings since I will have meetings with several high officials.

Q.: Currently, there is no direct flight between Baku and Zagreb. How do you assess the necessity of opening this flight? How should the two countries improve the tourism relations?

A.: We expect a continuous rise in the number of Azerbaijani tourists and business people visiting Croatia, and vice versa. Therefore I believe that next year seasonal direct flights from Baku to Zagreb and other destinations such as Split, Dubrovnik, Zadar or Pula are feasible.


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