Croatia is trying to learn from the experience of Kazakhstan to implement the "Strategy - 2050", is waiting for Kazakhstan investments and developing plans to participate in the EXPO-2017, and the business world is waiting for proposals of Kazakh business and is ready to share high technology and experience of the tourism industry.
In addition, the friendly state opens its consulate in Almaty and is looking for ways to simplify procedures of entry permits for our tourists. All this has been told to "Kazinform" reporter after the Kazakh-Croatian business forum in Astana by Deputy Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of this country Joško Klisović. We are offering this interview to our readers:
- Mr. Klisović, taking the opportunity we would like, first of all, to ask you a question about the possibility of a trip to Croatia. It is known that from 2010 in your country there has been the simplified visa regime for the entrance from Kazakhstan, but this year Croatia is expected to join the European Union. Apparently, the country will automatically enter the Schengen area, and we might lose the preferences, i.e. an opportunity to visit it in a simplified manner. Is that true to life?
- That's right. July 1 Croatia will join the EU, and therefore we are accepting visa policy of the EU. It will not depend on Croatia, as each member state is obliged to do so. But we will try to facilitate this process for the people of Kazakhstan, as far as possible. In what way? First, if you already have a Kazakhstani valid Schengen visa, it will be viewed as a visa to Croatia. Second, if a citizen has a diplomatic or service passport, he, as before, does not need a visa, as Kazakhstan and Croatia have signed a contract.
Finally, in the third, we are opening the consulate today in Almaty, and in the future we will do it in Astana, which will allow citizens of Kazakhstan to apply for a visa and get it, without referring to it in our embassy in Moscow or Ankara.
In addition, visitors will be able to apply to certified travel agencies, which will also accept applications for visas and send them to the embassy.
Also, we hope to find in Kazakhstan a business center or a company that specializes in issuing visas to all countries of the world. However, I still do not know whether there is one in Kazakhstan, and in many countries it is quite common. That's the way we are trying to facilitate the process of obtaining permission to enter.
- By the way, when in Croatia at the beginning of last year, there was held a referendum on joining the European Union, about 66% of the population was in favor of annexation, and more than 33% were against. Today we can see that the economic situation in Europe is even more complicated. Didn't the mood of Croatia population change in this regard?
- No, I do not think the mood has changed dramatically. We consider the EU as an excellent platform for economic and social development of Croatia.
Kazakhstan and Croatia have a lot in common. Both republics gained independence in 1991, both in the past were socialist. And today in our countries there are similar processes - you are entering the EU, and Kazakhstan with its partners is coming to the creation of the Eurasian Union. So I wonder how this process is estimated by the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Establishment of the Eurasian Union of Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus, I think, will create a favorable atmosphere for further development of these countries. The EU is already working closely in economic and political terms with the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Politics of Minsk did not quite meet the requirements adopted by the EU, but I hope that in the future they will work more closely with the EU.
- As for the question of politics: we know that you are familiar with the strategy of President Nazarbayev titled "Kazakhstan - 2050". Could you please share your view of it?
- Yes, I have read "Kazakhstan - 2050" Strategy. It provides crisp, clear, and specific areas of the country progress and how to implement them. Croatia is trying to learn from the experience of Kazakhstan to achieve the goals. I noticed that the Strategy really shows the development of Kazakhstan. The interests of its scale and productivity: it covers at once political, social and economic spheres.
- We are now turning to the economy: at today's forum Croatian and the Kazakh sides tried to present themselves to each other and find ways to work more closely. What may be of interest to Croatian business circles of Kazakhstan?
- The Croatian side has been represented today by companies that can offer high-tech products to Kazakhstan. Many companies see great potential and are ready to create joint ventures. Of particular potential are agriculture, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, energy and engineering, in particular, for manufacturing trains. Various forms of cooperation are implied here: from joint ventures to the implementation of investment projects.
Several construction companies are willing to come to Kazakhstan and to offer their services here, in particular, in the construction of railways and roads, buildings, bridges and other infrastructure.
Moreover, some Croatian companies are already operating successfully in Kazakhstan. For example, the firm opened an office named Dalekovod and by the order of KEGOC it is building power lines. 90 Concept company is working in Kazakhstan, it is engaged in building sports complexes. But there are still companies which would like to get contracts and work in Kazakhstan.
- Indeed, many foreign companies want to work with us in Kazakhstan, so it is still interesting what special Croatian companies have to offer.
- We are quite competitive because we have the high-tech, highly skilled specialists and low cost services.
- What might be interesting in Croatia for Kazakh businessmen?
- Unfortunately, I can not really answer that question, because I need more time to get more information on the expanded area of interest of Kazakh businessmen in Croatia.
- In Kazakhstan in 2017 there will be World's Fair. Are Croatian companies going to take part in its preparation and implementation?
- We are very pleased that the Expo will be held in Astana, and we would very much like to take part in it because they could not be present at the exhibition, held in South Korea - as you know the participation requires tangible material costs. As for the plans regarding the participation of Croatia in the EXPO-2017, they are only at the stage of development.
- Croatia is known for its well-developed tourist industry. Is your country willing to share its experience with Kazakhstan and bring investment into this field?
- Our country has a rich history and, accordingly, attractions, sports tourism, and infrastructure. Our tourism industry has a wealth of experience and I've read that tourism in Kazakhstan is just beginning to develop. Also, I learned that in Kazakhstan there are many national parks and nature reserves. Of course, the Croatian tourist companies could share their knowledge and experience in the field of tourism. However, as regards to investment, rather, that is what we are waiting them from Kazakhstan.