Germany's federal state of Bavaria and Croatia need to once again intensify contacts so as to strengthen economic and political cooperation, Bavaria's Minister President Horst Seehofer said after meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic in Munich on Monday.
"I am happy that after a longer pause I can welcome a Croatian Prime Minister in Munich. This is the continuation of our good relations and, one could say, friendship," Seehofer said after his meeting with Oreskovic.
Seehofer pointed out that a Croatian prime minister last visited Munich in 2009, stressing that relations develop "through personal contact." "We must not forget the importance of personal relations," Seehofer said and expressed hope that the pause in relations has now come to an end.
Seehofer explained that he spoke with Oreskovic about political issues such as the refugee crisis and possible Brexit but that the talks focused on intensifying economic relations and removing barriers to investments by Bavarian entrepreneurs.
Oreskovic too underscored that they mostly spoke about the economy and how to remove barriers to investments. "We spoke concretely about how to reduce the barriers to investments. And we highlighted two of the greatest problems - red tape and unstable taxation policies," Oreskovic said.
He highlighted that he had received great support from Seehofer for the reforms being prepared by his government. "We are very interested in Bavaria's help to create the best possible business climate in Croatia," the PM said.
He pointed out that he was going to meet with representatives of several Bavarian companies tonight that are already active in Croatia, such as Siemens or Fresenius, so that he can hear directly from entrepreneurs what barriers they are coming across with their investments.
"We are particularly interested in Bavaria's experience in applying regional support, which is what we want to apply in our regions like Lika and Slavonia," Oreskovic said. "We spoke concretely about some investments in the energy sector and infrastructure," he added.
Seehofer thanked Oreskovic for Croatia's contribution to the closure of the Balkan migration route and criticised his federal government in Berlin over its views on that issue.
"Instead of commending the countries along the Balkan route, Berlin criticised them," Seehofer said and pointed out the numbers that indicate that prior to an agreement between Turkey and the European Union concerning refugees, thanks to the Balkan route being shut down the number of refugees dropped drastically.
"We spoke about that too but we won't say too much about that because (Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip) Erdogan is set to arrive in Croatia tomorrow," Seehofer said.
"If things are going well for Croatia, then Bavaria will benefit too. However, we have a lot of work ahead of us," he said.
Croatia's prime minister thanked Seehofer for his hospitality and announced his forthcoming visit to Croatia soon. He also underlined the importance of the large Croatian community in Munich and Bavaria as one of the important factors of Bavarian-Croatian friendship.