Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to Croatia, the first by a Chinese head of state to the country, is a historic event, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic says.
"I expect that this visit gives a new, significant impetus to strengthening bilateral relations, in the first place in the economic field, but not limited to this," Mesic said in a written interview with Xinhua ahead of Hu's visit on June 19-20.
There is a great potential for cooperation between the two countries, which could involve Chinese investments in Croatia and the establishment of joint ventures, he said.
"There is one such company in China which I visited last year and I am pleased to say that it is doing good business," Mesic said, referring to a joint venture making transformers in the city of Shenyang in northeastern China.
It showed that such kind of cooperation is "very realistic," he said.
Bilateral relations have enjoyed smooth development since the establishment of diplomatic ties 17 years ago.
On ways to further bilateral ties, Mesic said: "To put it in the simplest and briefest way, we have to proceed on the foundations we have laid."
"It is true that we are countries in different corners of the world. China is the most populous country and we are a small country even on the European scale," Mesic said.
In spite of that, the two countries share identical or similar views on a number of issues concerning bilateral ties and international relations, he added.
"By this I especially have in mind cooperation within the framework of the United Nations," Mesic said.
Mesic said Croatia is on the threshold of EU membership and this does not in any way mean that it shall neglect its relations with non-European countries.
"I hold the view that there are very good opportunities for further development of our relations and I am positive that we shall know how to use them in the interest and to the benefit of both countries," he said.
On the current global financial and economic crisis, Mesic said it is the consequences of an outdated neo-liberal model.
It is dangerous only to address the symptoms of the problems but neglect the root causes, he said.
"It takes courage to explore new avenues and new possibilities. I am looking forward to exchanging views with the Chinese President on this topic," Mesic said.