Croatia and Russia have good and friendly relations free of any bilateral issues and there is still much room for cooperation, Russian Ambassador Anvar Azimov said in Zagreb on Wednesday.
Giving a lecture on the Russian-Croatian relations and Russia's foreign affairs, the ambassador said at Europe House that his country did not vie for influence in Croatia and that Moscow respected Croatia's membership of the European Union and NATO, and did not find it to be an obstacle for bilateral cooperation.
In order to enhance bilateral relations, Moscow has proposed five draft agreements to Zagreb, Azimov said.
He noted that 50% of gas supplies provided for Croatia's market were from Russia, and added that if Croatia was interested, Russia could increase those supplies.
Despite EU sanctions imposed on Russia, as many as 70,00 Russian guests have visited Croatia this year, the diplomat said adding that the Russians spent 30 times more than some European holiday-makers.
Commenting on the EU sanctions imposed due to the Ukrianian crisis, Azimov said that it was Russia's interest to have those sanctions lifted as soon as possible.
The sanctions are affecting Russia's economy but also the EU economy, he said.
Perhaps, Russia is the most natural and most logical partner of the EU and I am sure that we will sooner or later renew our strategic relations, Azimov underscored.
He went on to say that Croatia lost 25 million euros annually as a result of those sanctions.
As for Syria, Azimov said that it had not been easy for Moscow to decide on air strikes, and the decision had been made at the urging from Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.
According to Russian estimates, some 7,000-8,000 volunteers from Russia's North Caucasus are involved in the fighting in that Middle East country, and Russia did not want them to come back.
Russia wants to support Syria's national unity and a ceasefire, and it is up to the Syrian people to decide on whether Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, Azimov said.