Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Croatia on Tuesday for an official visit to the country and the eighth leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) in the Croatian seaside city Dubrovnik.
Upon Li's arrival, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his wife Ana Plenkovic led a warm welcome ceremony at the Zagreb Airport. Children dressed in national costumes presented flowers to Premier Li and his wife Cheng Hong.
Li is the first Chinese premier that pays a visit to Croatia since the two countries established diplomatic ties 27 years ago.
The Chinese premier said he is happy to visit the beautiful country, adding that China and Croatia share a profound traditional friendship.
Bilateral relations enjoy healthy and stable development on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefits, and cooperation in all areas has continuously achieved significant breakthroughs, which has brought tangible benefits to both sides, Li said.
"I expect this visit can consolidate China-Croatia traditional friendship, enhance political mutual trust, strengthen the alignment of the two countries' development strategies and policies, expand and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides, so as to promote China-Croatia comprehensive cooperative partnership to a new higher level," the premier said.
Li said that currently, cooperation between China and the 16 CEECs has shown strong vitality with significant outcomes achieved in areas including economy and trade, investment, finance, infrastructure, agriculture, and people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
It has become a vigorous inter-regional cooperation mechanism which has provided a new avenue for China's cooperation with Europe, he added.
Li said China expects to work with the 16 CEECs, under the principles of equality and consultation, mutual benefits, openness and inclusiveness, and with pragmatic and innovative spirits, to make the cooperation mechanism an important platform for synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative and the EU strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia so as to inject new impetus into the development of the China-CEEC relations and the European integration process.
During the visit to Croatia, Li will have a meeting with Plenkovic, with whom he will hold a joint press conference, attend an opening ceremony of the Year of Tourism between China and Croatia, inspect the project of the Peljesac Bridge and witness the signing of cooperation deals in several areas. Li will also meet Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic.
During the China-CEEC leaders' meeting themed "Building New Bridges through Openness, Innovation and Partnership," the Chinese premier and leaders of 16 CEECs will plan practical cooperation in the future, witness the signing of cooperation deals, attend a series of activities including an economic and trade forum. Li will also hold bilateral meetings with CEEC leaders.
Before landing in Zagreb, the second stop of the premier's five-day tour to Europe, Li concluded his trip in Brussels with the successful holding of the 21st China-European Union (EU) leaders' meeting.