Interview with Russian Ambassador in Croatia Anvar Azimov

Intervju sa Anvarom Azimovim

Mr. Anvar Azimov is the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Zagreb. During six months since he took charges in Croatia, Mr. Azimov has perfectly familiarized himself with political situation, political parties, our mentality, our desires and our problems. Azimov is 65 years old and he has already been 43 years in the Russian diplomacy. He had been offered several destinations but he chose Croatia. He knows our history. Croatia is a member of NATO and the European Union but this fact is not an obstacle for cooperation and friendship between the two Slavic nations, has said Azimov. It is a very communicative, open and honest diplomat who responds to every question. He is optimistic as he believes that his knowledge and emotions towards Croatia might help him to achieve results. Azimov is a polyglot who speaks 12 languages and a little bit Croatian as 13th language. He is a father of six children. Azimov stays in Zagreb with his wife and two youngest children. He was born in Tashkent and he is Uzbek by nationality.

The Russian Embassy in Zagreb seems to be well staffed ...
– Very good staffed. I have more than twenty excellent diplomats. It shows you how much you are important to us. I love Croatia. Every morning I have a meeting with my diplomats. Every meeting begins with the following words: “We love and respect this country. We will never do any harm to the Croatian people. Our goal is the development of relations in the interest and for the benefit of Croatian and Russian people. I do not want to say that Croatia depends on Russian oil and gas, but the fact is that 60% of fuel comes from Russia. It is unacceptable that Russian gas and oil come to Croatia through third-hand from other countries. I would like to have a direct supply as it will be cheaper. Also it would be nice to have the representative offices of Gazprom and Rosneft here.

Are you familiar with our politicians?
– I very appreciate your president Mrs.Grabar-Kitarovic. When I came to Croatia, Mrs. President invited me and we had a very long, interesting and professional conversation. I think in your country one of the most important role has your smart and capable president. I said: “Dear President, as an ambassador and the representative of my President, I will do my best for the benefit and in the interests of the Croatian people. Please permit us to realize this opportunity “.

Do you already have the opportunity to realize it?
– Still not fully. For the last decade has been a fall in the development of Russian-Croatian relations in all areas. It is not accidentally that I was sent here. My aim is to give a greater dynamics to our relations. Before the trade sanctions came into effect trade in goods was about two billion dollars. My intention is to increase it up to three or even four billion USD.

What is the value of trade right now?
– Due to the effects of sanctions, unfortunately, trade has dropped by 40 percent. So, it is about one billion and 200 million dollars. Except for fruit and fish we used to import medical supplies, pharmaceutical drugs. We also like your cosmetics, textile and leather products. We are interested in ordering ships.

We have a new government and Prime Minister Mr. Oreskovic. What did you report to Moscow?
– Earlier a center-left government used to be here. I expected it to be easier … But, unfortunately, it was not so easy. Sometimes, when you turn slightly to the right, it makes it even easier to solve problems and to establish good relations. I wrote to Moscow and gave an objective assessment of the new Croatian government. I wrote that we should cooperate with the Prime Minister Oreskovic and his Government. I gave an objective assessment of Oreskovic, Karamarko and Foreign Minister Kovac. Our Prime Minister Medvedev sent a congratulatory message to the Prime Minister Oreskovic that I sent out, as well as greetings on behalf of Minister Lavrov to Minister Kovac. It is not a coincidence. My authorities reported in congratulations: ‘We are ready to have good relations with Croatia. I sent a request for a meeting to Prime Minister Oreskovic and Minister Kovac. I hope that I will get a reply soon. I am very glad that your new Prime Minister is a powerful technocrat and manager. It is necessary for your country. His team has skilled professionals.

What is the power of the Russian ambassador in a foreign country?
In our opinion in the diplomatic system mind and the voice of the Ambassador play the most important role. I was very impressed by the knowledge and the role of your President. I have sent a message to Moscow that interested my President. During the last session of the UN General Assembly Mr. Putin met Mrs. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and later has sent her a message with New Year congratulations. Russia respects Croatia. I will consider my mission to be successful and completed if your President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit Moscow. I’m just starting to organize a big ambitious task: Croatian-Russian economic forum where 100 most powerful Russian businessmen should take part. I pray to God to hold this forum in April or May this year, but I’m afraid that most part of the people might be against.

Russian diplomacy has a very long tradition …
– Yes, very long. On Wednesday, February 10th is a big day of the Russian diplomacy. We are proud of this holiday that marks the day when Tsar Peter the Great issued an order on establishment of Russian diplomacy. A Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already exists for 215 years.


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