Croatian top envoy shoots for new embassy in Seoul
Croatian Ambassador to Korea and Japan Mira Martinec presented copies of her letter of credentials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul, Wednesday.
Martinec was also to discuss with officials possibly opening a chancery in Korea, solicit Korea investment for a port modernization project and bolster academic ties during her four-day visit from Croatia’s representative office in Tokyo, Japan.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Korea and Croatia.
Martinec met with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) President Park Chul to discuss current academic cooperation with universities in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, and in Rijeka, the location of the Balkan nation’s largest sea port.
HUFS sees some three dozen Croatian-language students annually, as well as student exchanges.
Martinec said Croatia looks to open a chancery here this year or in 2013.
“At the end of last year we had elections, and we have a new government in place now and I hope the government will realize its decision to open an chancery here pretty soon. I can’t say when exactly, but it could be this year or next year,” Martinec said in an interview with The Korea Times Thursday.
Korea recognized Croatia on April 15, 1992, and opened an embassy in Zagreb in 1994.
“It is a really big thing for us. If you have your embassy in a foreign country, it means that the country has a lot of possibilities to not only be fully represented, but also to see the politics of that country from the inside, and to also bring business, for example” she said.
The main reason Croatia had not yet opened an embassy was because of the debilitating war with Serbia, recovery and then EU membership negotiations which lasted for six years.
Martinec said Croatia could be a strategic logistics hub as it is located at the crossroads of Central Europe, the Balkans and the Mediterranean.
Martinec is looking toward Korean investment in expanding and upgrading Croatia’s Port of Rijeka. Korean companies have been manufacturing platforms in Central Europe and so improving logistics routes through Croatia will boost Korean exports into Europe.
Trade between Korea and Croatia is currently small at $175 million annually, but Croatian craft workers are well known for ship building for the high-end retail luxury yacht market.
Croatian foreign relations have reached its full stride in recent months as the Balkan nation concluded national elections late last year, and affirmed European Union membership in a referendum.
Croatia joins Balkan neighbor Slovenia, which joined in 2004, to become the E.U.’s 28th member in 2013