Croatian President Stipe Mesic arrived in Moscow today on a three-day visit. Today, the Croatian president will have a meeting with Russian President Putin; Mesic will also conduct negotiations with representatives of the Russian administration; the speaker of the State Duma, Gennady Seleznyov; and Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia Aleksy II. Mesic will also participate in the official opening ceremony of the Days of Croatian Culture in Russia.
This is Stipe Mesic’s (67) first visit to Moscow, and the president of Croatia can speak Russian rather well. As he says himself, he always wanted to visit Russia, since he is very fond of the Russian culture and literature.
Mesic was elected Croatian president in February of the year 2000, several months after Franjo Tudjman's death. Tudjman is referred to as “the father of Croatian independence,” a tough, authoritarian leader. The last time a Croatian president visited Russia was in 1998; at that time it was Franjo Tudjman. Russia and Croatia signed a treaty on friendly relations and cooperation. The development of bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East, and in the world on the whole will be the main subjects of negotiations with the Croatian leader. Vladimir Putin said at the beginning of the meeting that Russia knows Stipe Mesic as a politician of the new generation. Putin added that it would be interesting to exchange opinions pertaining to the situation in the Balkans.
One of the basic objectives of the Croatian president is to sign contracts between Russian and Croatian oil companies, as well as between the companies of the countries of Central Europe. If the documents are approved, then Russian crude will be delivered through a pipeline to be stored in Omishal, which is on Croatia’s Adriatic coastline. Huge tankers will be able to deliver oil from that port to any part of the world. It will reportedly be possible to deliver up to five million tons of oil every year as a start, but the delivery volumes are likely to be increased to 15 million tons or more. Croatia believes that this project will be capable of guaranteeing the energy security of the entire of Europe.
Furthermore, Croatia is interested in setting up joint ventures with Russia in the fields of certain pharmaceutical, production, food stuffs, wood-working, and tobacco industries. The meetings with Russian senior officials will also touch upon the subject of the debt of the former Soviet Union to the former republic of Yugoslavia ($1.6 billion dollars in total). Croatia is ready to offer several variants for the solution of that issue, but it is not known yet which variants in particular.
Croatia’s ambassador to Russia, Hidajet Biscevic, said that there were almost no discrepancies between Moscow and Croatia as far as the estimation of the major world events are concerned: “Our views are the same on a lot of issues.”
Croatia’s major goal at present is to be incorporated into the European community as soon as possible. Biscevic said that several aspects regarding the establishment of the European security system would be discussed during Mesic’s visit.
The Croatian ambassador said that he was very happy that the visit of the Croatian president was taking place at the same time the Days of Croatian Culture are starting in Russia. This show will also take place in Vladimir, Kostroma, and in the Moscow region.
Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov