Croatian-Finnish political relations are good, but economic relations lag far behind, Croatian President Stjepan Mesic said in Zagreb on Wednesday after meeting his Finnish counterpart, Tarja Halonen.
"Our political relations are good, although insufficiently developed, and our economic relations are lagging far behind what is objectively possible and desirable. The governments in Zagreb and Helsinki, as well as enterprises in both countries, have a lot of work to do," President Mesic told the press. "We must be more energetic and aggressive in reducing the trade deficit. The offset arrangements that accompany the contract on the purchase of (Finnish manufacturer) Patria's armoured personnel carriers, point to the way to go," said President Mesic. Halonen said she was happy about the deal with Patria and voiced hope that it could be a good start which would enable Croatian companies to do business in Finland.
President Mesic said he was pleased that Finland supported European Union enlargement and recalled that Croatia was in the last stage of the accession negotiations. He said he was sure that Croatia would successfully complete its road to the EU despite the current stalemate, which was caused by Slovenia over a border dispute.
Halonen said Croatia had made a lot of headway in preparing for EU membership and extended Finland's assistance in the process.
Finland is encouraging Croatia on its road to the EU, she said, voicing hope that the Slovenian-Croatian dispute would be settled in a way befitting two modern democracies.
Asked by the press if she had any advice regarding the fight against corruption, given that Finland has the lowest corruption, Halonen said it was essential to make corruption the hardest endeavour possible and that effective work by state institutions was very important.