Croatia and Libya have excellent political relations and will cooperate in the UN Security Council, but their relationship is not backed by appropriate economic cooperation, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Croatian President Stjepan Mesić said on Monday.
President Mesić began his second official visit to Libya with an hour-long talk with Colonel Gaddafi in his host's tent outside his home town of Sirt.
"Relations between Libya and Croatia are excellent, there are great and personal friendships, and visits like this provide an even greater impulse to our relations," Gaddafi said in a rare statement to the press.
President Mesić and Colonel Gaddafi discussed the situation in Southeast Europe and further cooperation between Libya and Croatia in the UN Security Council after both countries became its non-permanent members on 1 January. "The UN must be reformed in order to be more efficient," President Mesić stated.
"We must use our non-permanent membership of the Security Council to initiate the reform of the UN and reconsider the question of the veto in the Security Council," Gaddafi said.
"We must make a decision that concerns both big and small countries and we must consider the possibility of increasing the number of Security Council members. We will cooperate with our friends in the Security Council, such as Croatia, to set these things in motion," the Libyan leader added.
Gaddafi and Mesić agreed that their countries had good political relations, but that they lacked stronger economic ties. "We must admit that our companies failed to use the opportunity they had in Libya, where all doors to our companies were open," Mesić said, adding that Croatian companies had made too small an effort. "Our companies can still come to Libya and invest in the construction of cement factories, shipbuilding, oil exploitation and the power industry."
The fact that a double taxation avoidance agreement has not been signed yet is seen as a major problem for Croatian companies wishing to do business in Libya. President Mesić emphasized that this was an administrative problem that should be solved and that the next meeting on the signing of this agreement was expected to take place in May.
President Mesić was accompanied by representatives of a dozen Croatian companies interested in doing business in Libya. The Croatian company currently with the biggest deal in Libya is Adria-Mar, which has signed a contract to build 10 patrol boats for the Libyan Coast Guard, the price of each boat being around USD 5 million.
Colonel Gaddafi was due to give a formal dinner for the Croatian delegation in Sirt on Monday.