The concept of non-alignment “is extremely relevant” in the multipolar scenario emerging today, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said at a banquet held in his honour here by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic. He was accorded a ceremonial welcome on his arrival here from Prague on a two-day visit.
Mr. Ansari's visit to this tiny country on the coast of the Adriatic Sea is the first-ever state visit by a VVIP after India recognised Croatia in 1992 and established diplomatic relations with this former republic of Yugoslavia.
The visit not only marks the revival of India's warm ties with erstwhile Yugoslavia under President Joseph Tito but takes the bilateral relationship forward. It assumes significance as India is looking to the support of Croatia for its candidature for the United Nations Security Council seat. India also reiterated the need to combat terrorism at international level.
Both the sides on Wednesday signed two agreements on cooperation in Health and Medicine and on Cultural Exchange. Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot signed the first pact, while India's Ambassador Pradeep Singh signed the second one for India.
The agreement on health will cover care in mother and child health, family planning, public health and nursing, medical research, medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, hospital management and medical education.
The cultural agreement provides for a programme for contemporary Indian art exhibition and an Indian miniature painting exhibition to be held in Croatia and an exhibition of Croatian cultural heritage to be held in India. Since Croatia has a strong tradition of Indology, the pact provides for cooperation in this area.
Noting that the Centre for Indology at the University of Zagreb was encouraging such studies actively, Mr. Ansari recalled the visit of Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo, better known as Filip Vesdin, who stayed in Southern India for 13 years from 1776 and pioneered the Croatian tradition of Indological Studies. He published several books and papers on Indian culture, ranging from Sanskrit grammar to Indian botany.
Croatia's rapid progress
Appreciating the rapid progress made by Croatia, Mr. Ansari informed the Croatian President that India's management of the economy over the past two years had helped minimise the effect of the unprecedented global financial crisis. “In the current financial year 2010-11, the economy is expected to grow at 8.5 per cent. This reflects the strong fundamentals of our economy.”
Mr. Ansari emphasised the need to expand the trade between India and Croatia which stands at $160 million. In fact, Croatia had dominated bilateral trade relations with the former Yugoslavia. This included large-scale purchases of Croatian ships by India in the 1970s and 80s.