ZAGREB, Oct 24 (Hina) - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic began a three-day visit to Azerbaijan on Sunday by meeting with Croatians working in that oil-rich country.
"I'd like to thank you for everything that you do here and for the way in which you represent Croatia. You are certainly the best ambassadors of your country," Grabar-Kitarovic said.
The official part of her visit begins on Monday when she is scheduled to meet with her Azerbaijani host, President Ilham Aliyev.
"Relations between Croatia and Azerbaijan are friendly, we have no outstanding issues, but I think that we have huge unused potential, particularly in the area of the economy," the Croatian president said.
Grabar-Kitarovic expressed her conviction that her talks with President Aliyev and other officials, as well as a business forum scheduled for Tuesday, would help turn various aspects of cooperation into concrete projects, not just in trade, but also in investments and cooperation in energy, technology, the food industry, shipbuilding, transport, and tourism.
The wealth of Azerbaijan, a country of slightly over nine million people, is based on rich reserves of oil and natural gas, which account for 95 percent of its exports.
On Monday, the Croatian president is scheduled to meet with President Aliyev, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and Parliament Speaker Ogtay Asadov, and give a lecture at the Diplomatic Academy.
On Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarovic and Aliyev will address the Azerbaijani-Croatian Economic Forum, which is expected to be attended by representatives of about 35 Croatian and a hundred Azerbaijani companies.
Refik Sabanovic, head of Croatia's temporary office in Azerbaijan, which the President hopes will soon become an embassy, said that Grabar-Kitarovic's visit was important because, among other things, "it will certainly open the door for our companies in Baku because this market is still experiencing growth."
Since Azerbaijan has its embassy in Zagreb, it would be very stimulating for business for Croatia to reciprocate by opening its embassy in Baku, Sabanovic said.
Sabanovic introduced Grabar-Kitarovic to members of the Croatian community in Azerbaijan, mostly people working in oil companies, but also athletes, including football coach Robert Prosinecki and handball coach Sinisa Popek.