Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said on Monday that China's constructive role in the international community contributed to the further development of relations between Croatia and China and that the two countries' "committed friendship" was important in today's world that was faced with a growing number of challenges.
Grabar-Kitarovic made the statement at an event celebrating the Chinese New Year and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Croatia and China, held at Zagreb's "Vatroslav Lisinski" concert hall.
Expressing hope that 2017, a year of the rooster, which symbolises enthusiasm, diligence, courage and confidence, would bring better answers to growing challenges in the modern world, Grabar-Kitarovic underlined the importance of strong friendships in the modern world.
"... I believe that the friendship with China is such a friendship," she said.
Grabar-Kitarovic expressed confidence that the two countries would continue to work on enhancing their partnership, noting that Croatia and China had recognised Central and Eastern Europe as an area where it would be possible to continue their friendly cooperation with the aim of "strengthening economic cooperation and trade and the European market and advancing the infrastructure."
"That is why the initiative 'One Belt, One Road' and the "Three Seas" initiative, which I advocate together with Polish President Andrzej Duda, are two complementary platforms connected through the 16+1 format," the Croatian president said.
During Grabar-Kitarovic's visit to China in October 2015, her host, President Xi Jinping, said that Croatia was important for China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative as well as for a closer cooperation between China and Central European countries, as part of the initiative China + 16, with emphasis being on energy and transport. He also welcomed her initiative "Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea" at the time.
In her address at the Chinese New Year event on Monday evening, Grabar-Kitarovic said that fully making use of Croatian ports and their potential and accomplishing cooperation in energy, transport and infrastructure required additional effort and appropriate models for the implementation of projects of mutual interest.
"As one of the fastest growing economies, China is an unavoidable partner in possible investments and cooperation," she said.
Commenting on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Croatia-China diplomatic relations, Grabar-Kitarovic said that period "has been marked by mutual trust, committed friendship and sincerity between the two peoples."
"May the Year of the Rooster give new impetus to strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries and the close ties between their citizens as well as make their cooperation even closer and more intensive, thus strengthening our partnership and raising it to a strategic level," the Croatian president said, wishing all those attending the event a happy New Year.
Chinese Ambassador Deng Ying said that China attached great importance to its partnership and cooperation with Croatia and underlined the great potential for advancing the cooperation between the two countries.
This year offers a good opportunity to deepen our mutual trust and raise our relations and cooperation to a higher level, said Deng.
She said that Grabar-Kitarovic's successful visit to China in 2015 had given new impetus to the development of bilateral relations, recalling that the two countries' economic and trade relations had improved since.
Croatia and China have been respecting one another over the past 25 years, Deng said, expressing satisfaction also with their cooperation in culture, education and sport.
The celebration of the Chinese New Year also included performances by a theatre troupe from the Chinese city of Ningbo, as well as by singers, dancers and acrobats.
Attending the event was also Parliament Speaker Bozo Petrov.