Zagreb - The Speaker of the Croatian Parliament, Božo Petrov, met with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the Speaker of the Senate, Milan Stech, at the start of his official visit to Prague on Monday.
Petrov was heading a Croatian Parliament delegation which included Vladimir Bilek, the chairman of the parliamentary group representing the ethnic minorities and head of the Croatia-Czech Republic Interparliamentary Friendship Group, and Tomislav Panenić, a member of the Committee on Economic Affairs.
Petrov and Sobotka agreed that bilateral economic relations did not reflect the high level of political relations between the two countries, noting that the business cooperation had somewhat stagnated last year. They expressed hope that Tuesday's Czech-Croatian Economic Forum would provide a boost to investment in Croatia. "There is great potential for business cooperation in the sectors of energy, small and medium enterprises, and information and communications technologies," Petrov said, according to a Croatian Parliament press release.
The two officials agreed that diversification of energy sources was crucial for the energy independence of the European Union. Sobotka also mentioned the Czech fiscalisation project, which is based on the Croatian model, saying that it would soon enter the second of four stages. The focus of talks between Petrov and Stech was on bilateral political and economic relations, the status of the Croatian minority in the Czech Republic and the Czech minority in Croatia, and challenges faced by the European Union, including terrorism, the migrant crisis and Britain's exit from the EU.
Stech and Petrov cited energy, ICT, science and culture as possible areas of cooperation between the two countries. "Energy is the pillar of economic cooperation and industrial development in our respective countries," Stech said. On the subject of EU enlargement, the two officials agreed that the process of integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the EU should continue.
Czech President Miloš Zeman is due to visit Croatia in late March.