The Russian Ambassador inteview about the relations between Russia and Croatia in 2015.

Dr. Robert Markaryan, Russian Ambassador in Croatia, talks about the sanctions of the European Union in Russia, continuing conflict in Ukraine, the abolition of the South Stream project, the tourist season 2015 and about the future relations between Russia and Croatia in 2015.

 

Ruski veleposlanik

How did sanctions affected the relations between Russia and Croatia?

There was not a lot of impact on Croatia- Russian relations.  This year we will make a turnover of 1 billion and $ 500 000 this is not a big number, but not bad. Russia is the fifth or sixth Croatian economic partner.

Let me point up  the cultural relations between Russia and Croatia. They were very successful. In the fall of 2013, Russia participated in the famous music festival Varaždin Baroque Evenings for the first time. I sat with President Ivo Josipovic and I was very pleased when he said that the Russian Association was one of the best.

Cultural relations will be even better, when we open the RussianCroatian Cultural Centre in Zagreb.

 Is there an anti-Russian propaganda in Croatia?

Sadly, the Croatian media are very biased when when publishing articles on the crisis in Ukraine. I understand that most of the articles were taken from the western editions, but I think that they could write more objectively. But all in all, I do not think that all the Croatian media are in anti-Russian mood.

My last interview in Jutarnji List, which has caused a lot of comments, he was a pure misunderstanding and dishonest work of journalists. The journalist made up aggressive title of the article, which I never told. My suggestion title was How do we work together to solve sanctions“. Jutarnji list  is certainly the most criticized Russia of all Croatian media.

 Does the US affect on the situation around the shares of INA and MOL?

US strongly affects Croatia and Hungary because of the crisis in Ukraine. Americans do not hide it. Proof of this is that two members of the State Department recently visited Croatia to discuss the energy and the recent visit of US Senator Christopher Murphy. US want to make a pressure on Zagreb so they could turn them away from energy and defense cooperation with Russia. Likewise, the United States has affected the situation in Bulgaria with South Stream.

I have a feeling that everyone thinks that Gazprom only fantasizes about obtaining these shares. But this is not true, Croats and Hungarians have a greater interest than Gazprom, Gazprom has other priorities.

 Is there a plan of Russian investments in Croatia in 2015?

As for investments in 2015, I can not say anything positive. Unfortunately, there will not be a large investment, now is not a good economic situation and no major joint strategic projects. But Sberbank and Lukoil will continue to work as before without any problems.

Will there be more Russian tourists in 2015?
 
There is no reason to think that. Russian tourists are very spoiled- Russia has signed a visa-free regime with many countries, so that the Russians do not have the problem of choosing where to go on vacation. People are simply not accustomed to look for a visa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Croatian Embassy worked very hard to ease the whole procedure of issuing visas, but it was not enough for the growth of tourism.
 
I’m very sorry for that, because I love Croatia, I think that Croatia is one of the most beautiful country in the world and it’s a shame that Croatian hoteliers can not earn as much as they could.
We would like to cancel all the visas but unfortunately European Union rules do not allow us that. We work hard on  fast getting visas to Croats without any problems and the crowd. This is why we are opening a new consulate across from our embassy and old consulate at the beginning of 2015. There will be a lot more windows for receiving documents, and will speed up the whole procedure. And soon Visa center will be opened in Zagreb.
 

 Can you give some tips Croatian hotels?

I have some advice to increase the tourist season! It is to short and it could last for an entire year. I’m sure that Russians would like Croatia in winter.

As far as medical tourism, Croatian clinics need more lobbying, find partners in Russia, because the quality of Croatian medicine is very high and the prices for some services are much lower. I was in Varaždin Spa for a few days, and we really liked it, I think it is promising for Croatia.

 
How was 2014 for relations between Russia and Croatia?
 
It was a positive year. President Josipovic visited the Olympics in Sochi and was delighted, political relations are developing regardless of the current situation, cultural relations are very successful.
Russians like Croatia and Croats : for example, Ivica Olic was the idol of millions of young Russians, Medveščak is making progress in hockey League, i was so happy wher we won the game against Russian Dinamo. Croats are also good to the Russians, this year I did not get even one bad comment from Russian tourists.
 

 Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines

 

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