Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic travelled to Turkey on Wednesday for a return state visit at the invitation of her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After paying her respects to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, by laying a wreath at his tomb, Grabar-Kitarovic held a meeting with the Turkish Parliament Speaker, Binali Yildirim.
Croatia and Turkey have very good relations, without outstanding issues, and this visit is another opportunity to continue and boost dialogue at the highest level, Grabar-Kitarovic’s office said.
Erdogan paid a state visit to Croatia in April 2016, attending a ceremony marking 100 years since the recognition of Islam as equal to other religions in Croatia. Grabar-Kitarovic went to Turkey on a working visit in January last year, and the two also met on the fringes of the UN General Assembly meeting last autumn.
In Zagreb, Erdogan said he was pleased with the integration of the Muslim community in Croatian society, stressing that Croatia was a praiseworthy example of coexistence of different faiths. He said that in contemporary societies it was necessary to cultivate cooperation, not a clash of civilisations.
Speaking to the press after two-hour talks at the end of the Croatian president’s day-long return visit, Erdogan said that they mostly share similar sensitivities in regional and international affairs.
We will intensify our efforts to increase mutual investments, said Erdogan.
Croatia-Turkey trade amounted to $486.8 million in 2017, of which $171.6 million were Croatian exports, up 40 percent on 2016. In the first ten months of 2018, trade was $427 million, Grabar-Kitarovic’s office said.
The two presidents also discussed the situation in the Middle East, in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement that US troops will pull out of Syria, as well as the situation in Southeast Europe, with which Turkey has strong historical cultural ties, and where it has made major investments.
Grabar-Kitarovic said in Ankara last year that Croatia was especially grateful to Turkey for taking in millions of refugees from the Middle East and for honouring the 2016 agreement with the EU which made it possible to stop the refugee flow across the Balkans.