Latvia ready to extend assistance to Croatia on path to EU

  • 2000-05-25
RIGA (BNS) - Latvia is ready to extend assistance and its experience to
Croatia on the path to the European Union and wants to strengthen
bilateral relations with Croatia, including economic relations, Latvian
Foreign Ministry secretary Maris Riekstins said.

He was speaking in a news conference May 19 following a meeting with
Croatian deputy foreign minister Vesna Cvjetkovic-Kurelec. Riekstins
confirmed that Latvia, an EU associated country, values the progress of
Croatia and development of democracy there that could promote
development in the entire southeastern European region.

To help Croatia to strengthen progress and extend assistance on its
path to the EU, Latvia is ready to share its experience. Croatia would
gladly accept this experience, Cvjetkovic-Kurelec told reporters.

She said Croatia changed its foreign policy goals just three months
ago, and presently one of these goals is integration into the EU.
Croatia is

satisfied that it received permission to join NATO's Partnership for
Peace program as well as hopes for successful talks on accession to the
World Trade Organization.

"Latvia can give Croatia advice, assistance and experience in these
issues," said the Croatian deputy foreign minister.

She said Croatia is interested in cooperation not only with Western
European countries but also with Scandinavian and Baltic countries, and
one of the chief ways of cooperation could be tourism.

Latvia and Croatia established diplomatic relations in 1991. So far, a
number of bilateral visits and meetings have taken place. From Latvian
officials only Culture Minister Karina Petersone has visited Croatia.

Latvia's economic relations with Croatia are inactive. In 1999 the
trade volume of the two countries was just 587,000 lats ($956,026),
down 300,000 lats from 1998. In addition, Latvia's trade balance with
Croatia was negative.

The two officials voiced a hope the agreement on avoiding of double
taxation and tax evasion signed May 19 would improve economic relations
between the two countries.