The Croatian Chamber of Economy hosted a Croatian-Iranian Business Forum on September 20 which gathered about 80 businessmen from both countries. The Forum is the sequel to the first Croatian-Iranian Economic Forum held on June 27, which brought together about 60 Croatian companies and 15 Iranian companies and institutions. The first forum was organized on the occasion of an official visit of the Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. Ali Rabiei, who led the Iranian delegation to Croatia. The two countries have great interest in broader mutual economic cooperation and this forum proves the willingness and needs for such actions.
Croatia and Iran established diplomatic relations on March 18, 1992, and even with the difficult period of US-imposed sanctions against Iran and their efforts to isolate the country, both countries have always continued with good and friendly bilateral relations. After reaching the “nuclear deal” in January 2016, International sanctions on Iran were lifted clearing the path for improvement of economic and political ties between the two countries.
The Croatian President, Mrs. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, went on an official visit to The Islamic Republic of Iran in May 2016, where she was hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the Presidential palace. She led a delegation of three Ministers, Zagreb's Grand Mufti Aziz Ef. Hasanovic, and 70 businessmen.
After they held an official meeting, the Ministers of Economy of the Republic of Croatia and the Islamic Republic of Iran signed the Economic Cooperation Agreement in the presence of the two presidents. The Presidents of both Croatian and Iranian Chambers of Economy also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between two economic chambers. Since the focus of her visit was in terms of improving the economic relationship, the Iranian-Croatian Business forum was held with over 200 participants from both countries.
Capitalizing On Good Relations
At the September 20 forum, Mr. Luka Burilovic, the President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, stated that the Croatian and Iranian economies have a great potential for developing mutual cooperation in the fields of energy, rail, shipbuilding, the metal industry, IT industry, pharmaceuticals, food, chemical and auto industry, tourism and in knowledge transfer.
"Our task is to create opportunities and to open the doors of the economies despite the obstacles in the management which are being solved. Croatia can offer Iranian companies an excellent geostrategic position for joining the European market with 500 million people," Burilovic said.
Minister of Labor and Pension System, Mr. Marko Pavic, emphasized that the role of the policy is solving and removing barriers, such as the issue of payment transactions, which is a prerequisite for the further strengthening of mutual economic co-operation.
Addressing the forum, the Ambassador to Croatia of The Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Mohammad Reza Sadegh, noted that the official visit of President Grabar-Kitarovic and Croatian businessmen to Iran last year and their talks with President Rouhani were an incentive for further development of mutual economic relations, and that the Iranian market, with 80 million people, can be of significant importance to Croatian industrial sector.
President of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture, Mr. Gholamhossein Shafei, stated that Croatia can be a key country for Iran to reach the unified European market, and it that EU market contain more than 500 million consumers, while Iran could serve Croatia's needs to reach Central Asia's market.
Shafeei stated that Iran sees in Croatia a great potential for cooperation in the fields of energy, food, pharmaceuticals, construction, engineering, textile and other industries. "It is necessary to develop co-operation in the financial sector, and also to achieve joint production of brands and then to place them in other countries. It is important to be reciprocally connected by the land transport and railways, establish a direct air line between Tehran and Zagreb, accelerate visa issuance on both sides and improve banking relations."
Head of the Investments Department of Sector for International Affairs and the EU, Mrs. Svjetlana Momcilovic, said Croatia and Iran last year realized a total of US$ 5 million of commodity exchanges, of which Croatian exports to Iran amounted to $4.4 million, and imports from Iran amounted to $600,000. She noted that Croatian interest is in attracting more significant investments in the economy, especially in the field of manufacturing.
Despite Donald Trump's hostile speech at the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2017, where he stated that that the “nuclear deal“ is an “embarrassment to the United States“ is nothing more than empty rhetoric under the influence of the Israeli lobby aiming to undermine all positive outcomes which came from that deal. Moreover, President Trump seems to forget that the deal was reached not only by the United States alone, but with all permanent members of the UN Security Council and European Union. Further, it is against European interests to cancel the deal, since many EU members seek the oportunity to economically cooperate on mutual benefits.
On September 21, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, stated that the Iran nuclear deal is being fully implemented and that Iran is fully complying with the terms of the agreement adding, “as Europeans, we will make sure the agreement stays.“
In spite of all threats made by the US President, Croatia, as an EU member, and Iran will continue to maintain good relations, and with further development of economic ties it is expected both countries will prosper in many fields of economy.