Dec 24: Minister of State for External Affairs H.E. Shri V. Muraleedharan and his counterpart Mr. Frano Matušić, State Secretary for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia, held a meeting through virtual conference on 22 December, 2020. The meeting set a broad-based agenda for mutual cooperation in the year 2021 which would provide substance for celebrations of three decades of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2022.
The State Secretary of Croatia and the Minister of State of India exchanged views and ideas for cooperation in the area of healthcare, especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic and similar challenges that the world would face in the coming years. Given the existing excellent cooperation between the two sides in the area of pharmaceutical industry and healthcare-related research and development, the Ministers discussed the scope for further enhancement of cooperation in this mutually beneficial area.
Another area of cooperation that this pandemic has brought into focus is the importance of digital technologies on which the State Secretary of Croatia and the Minister of State of India discussed the need for developing a multi-layered digital partnership between the two countries with emphasis on corporate partnership, start-ups engagement, cyber R&D, talent and skilled human resources cooperation, cybersecurity and cyberinfrastructure. They welcomed the initial events in the area of start-ups engagements of two sides which were organized in the month of December 2020.
While recognizing the strong cultural cooperation, both sides underscored the importance of stronger engagement in cultural area in the year 2021-2022 in the context of 30 years of establishment of diplomatic relations. In this regard, the State Secretary of Croatia and the Minister of State of India discussed the possibility of exchange of cultural troupes, cooperation in the area of fine arts, archaeology as well as establishment of ICCR sponsored short-term chairs in Croatian Universities.
In the area of science, technology, and innovation, two sides highlighted the importance of providing opportunities to the youths of the two countries to connect for joint research, co-creation, and co-development. They appreciated the recent initiatives of connecting the University of Zagreb, Ruđer Bošković Institute, and Mediterranean Institute for Life Sciences with the Indian Department of Biotechnology.
Tourism being an important part of both B2B and P2P engagements, both sides recognized the need for tourism promotion activities despite the negative turn that this industry has faced due to the pandemic. The film industry as a means for enhancing awareness of each other’s tourism sites was highlighted as an important area of intervention and cooperation.
MOS highlighted the opportunities for Croatian companies in infrastructure projects in India. In this context, opportunities in railways, shipbuilding, environment-friendly technologies, agriculture, food processing, and fisheries were underscored.
The State Secretary of Croatia and the Minister of State of India exchanged views on developments in the Indo-Pacific region. They reiterated their commitment to an open, free, and stable Indo-Pacific region, which accounts for 64% of the world’s population with direct consequence for world peace and prosperity. India welcomed Croatia’s active participation in the making of the European Union Strategy for the Indo-Pacific region with a focus on preserving supply chain networks.
India’s two years non-permanent membership of the UNSC starting from January 2021 and Croatia’s strong active role in the European Union were recognized as important platforms for mutual cooperation to pursue common and convergent agendas on issues of global importance such as climate change, counter-terrorism, global healthcare issues and multilateral norms making for global commons such as cyberspace, maritime domain and outer-space.