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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 26.03.2019

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, reached Zagreb, Croatia yesterday (March 25, 2019) on the first leg of his state visit to three nations – Croatia, Bolivia and Chile. This is the first-ever visit of a head of state from India to Croatia.

Today (March 26, 2019), the President commenced his engagements with visit to the Office of the President of Croatia where he was received by his counterpart, Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and accorded a ceremonial welcome.

During the subsequent one-to-one discussions with President Kitarovic, the President said thathe was honoured to pay the first-ever State Visit from India to Croatia. He thanked her for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation. Thereafter, thePresident was conferred the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav, the highest award of the Republic of Croatia. He dedicated the award to India-Croatia Friendship.

Subsequently, the President led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, hesaid that India looks forward to greater cooperation with Croatia, both bilaterally and within the architecture of the European Union, particularly during Croatia’s Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020.The President said that India has strategic partnership with the European Union. India is working towards finalizing a pragmatic and balanced India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement. We would seek Croatia’s support for this, particularly during its Presidency of the EU.

The President said thatIndia is keen to impart greater economic content to its bilateral relations with Croatia. India-Croatia bilateral trade has doubled over the last decade but it does not reflect the true potential as yet. There are a number of new sectors that hold promise for both sides such as pharma, waste management, infrastructure development, agriculture, biomedical research and start-ups.

The President also offered to gift a bust of Mahatma Gandhi to Croatia to mark his 150thBirth Anniversary. The President of Croatia expressed her thanks for the gesture and assured that all efforts would be made to place the bust at a prominent public place in Croatia and unveil the same on October 2, 2019.

On talks concerning multilateral issues, Croatia expressed support for UN reforms including permanent membership for India in an expanded and reformed UN Security Council.

The President also emphasised India’s commitment to the cause of mitigating climate change and welcomed Croatia to join the International Solar Alliance.The Croatian President assured thatCroatia would consider India’s invitation with full earnestness. On the issue of terrorism, both countries agreed to work together to develop a strong global response to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and to seek accountability and action from those responsible for such barbaric acts.

Following the delegation-level talks, the two Presidents witnessed the signing and exchange of four MOUs that concern fields of tourism, sports and culture. These include:

1. An MOU on Hindi Chair: India (ICCR) to continue the Hindi Chair at Indology Department of University of Zagreb for another three years.

2. An MOU on Sanskrit Chair: Given the interest shown by Croatians in studying Sanskrit, India (ICCR) to set up a Sanskrit Chair at the Indology Department of University of Zagreb.

3. An MOU on cooperation in the field of tourism: this will help deepen links between the two countries in this tourism sector.

4. An MOU in field of sports: for cooperation between the Sports Authority of India and the Department of Kinesiology of the University of Zagreb for taking up joint initiatives for capacity building in sports.

The President also issued a Press Statement on his visit to Croatia (attached).

Later, the President visited the Mirogoj City Cemetery and paid his respects at the "Voice of the Croatian Victims-Wall of Pain Memorial”.

In his next engagement, the President visited the State Residence Visoka where the Prime Minister of Croatia, Mr Andrej Plenkovic, received him and hosted a working lunch. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India-Croatia relations go deep into history. Since Croatian Independence, our two countries have had close and friendly relations.We are keen to deepen our bilateral ties and expand their scope.

The President said that terrorism is a global threat which requires global response. The recent Pulwana terrorist attack on Indian security personnel is again an acute reminder of the urgency of determined international efforts to curb this menace.India had made a proposal for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations to strengthen international laws on counter terrorism. He sought Croatia’s support for early finalization of the Convention.

Later in the evening, the President will address an Indian Community Reception in Zagreb. He will also attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Croatia.

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