ZAGREB, Croatia: China hopes to foster its friendly and cooperative relations with countries in Southeastern Europe, President Hu Jintao said during his meeting the press along with Croatian President Stjepan Mesic on Saturday at the Croatian presidential palace.
He added that such relations constitute an important part of China's policies towards Europe.
The meeting of the press was held right after Hu and Mesic completed two rounds of talks, which focused on a wide range of bilateral and international issues, and witnessed the signing of three intergovernmental agreements on further development of economic and technological cooperation, civilian flights as well as plans for the two countries' collaborations in public health and science.
"China understands the efforts of the countries in the region for European integration," Hu said, adding China has always "respected sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries in Southeastern Europe and the development model chosen by the people in each country".
China is happy that Croatia is making some major headway in joining the European Union, he said.
"I believe by joining the European Union, Croatia will create new opportunities for growth not only for Croatia but also other countries in the region while opening new space to cultivate the relations between China and the Southeastern European nations."
Praising China-Croatian relations as a fine example for mutual respect and benefits between two nations with different civilizations and social systems, Hu said the two countries needed to forge ahead their relations by enhancing mutual political trust and maintaining dialogues between the two governments and legislatures as well as among different political parties.
Hu also proposed increasing the two people's exchanges in education, public health, sports and tourism and such exchanges should also start at the regional level. He invited 50 Croatian young people to visit China next year.
Hu also said China is willing to continue to communicate and coordinate its positions with Croatian government in dealing with such global issues of concerns as UN Security Council reforms, climate change, sustainable development, weather, international antiterrorism efforts, to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the world.
Cooperate to cope with financial crisis
During their meeting, the two presidents spent a lot of time exchanging ideas over how to cope with the global financial crisis, which has affected both countries.
Mesic said that Croatia is willing to coordinate with China in dealing with the crisis, adding that his country is willing to serve the gateway for China to enter Eastern Europe.
To reduce the impact of the world financial crisis, the two countries should also actively expand economic and trade ties and cultivate new growth engines, Hu said.
While China encourages Chinese firms to start joint ventures in airport and port construction, ship-building, telecommunications and medicines, Hu said, Croatian businesses should become "more adventurous" in exploring the Chinese markets so that "the trade between the two countries will achieve a balanced growth".
To make the bilateral relations "even better, we have a lot of work to do," Mesic said. "Although Croatia cannot become a partner of the whole country, it can still become a partner of a region in China or an industry. We must develop our own conviction and perseverance."
On the other hand, Mesic said, Croatia also welcomes Chinese businesses to bring investment and projects into his country, pledging that his country will improve its systems to make it easier for the Chinese businesses.
In the wake of Hu's visit, some 200 Chinese business people came to Croatia. Along with some 300 Croatian counterparts, they attended Croatian-Chinese Business Forum, at which both presidents gave keynote speeches.
Hu said China is willing to work with Croatia and the international communities in strengthening the coordination in macroeconomic policies, pushing for the reforms in international financial institutions, opposing trade and investment protectionism and contributing to the world's economic recovery.
On Saturday, Hu also held talks with Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and President of the Parliament Luka Bebic.