Croatia to help in Ukraine's reconstruction with its experience, knowledge - forum

(Hina) - Croatia will help in the reconstruction of Ukraine with its experience and knowledge, a Croatian-Ukrainian forum dedicated to Ukraine's reconstruction and future cooperation prospects, organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), heard on Tuesday.

Construction Minister Branko Bačić extended full support for Ukraine's fight for freedom, saying the Croatian government and state are demonstrating the support in the military, financial and humanitarian sense.

Croatia has experience with post-war reconstruction because it was attacked by a neighbouring state 30 years ago as well as with dealing with the aftermath of floods and earthquakes, he said.

In the post-war reconstruction, he added, Croatia rebuilt 156,000 buildings across the country, investing over €2.5 billion.

Bačić said he would invite Ukrainian developers and ministry employees to Croatia to go through all reconstruction processes with local experts.

"It's a good decision by Ukraine, and we certainly support it, that along with fighting for freedom and liberation, they are planning the future of Ukraine also through forums like this one, where they learn from the experience of states which have that experience. We will particularly help them in that."

It's important for life to return to the areas where houses have been demolished and the infrastructure destroyed, Bačić said, adding that Croatia's experience in peaceful reintegration can also be of value to Ukraine.

Ukrainians are already rebuilding the country in the territories where that is possible, said HGK president Luka Burilović.

"We have very good and friendly relations with Ukraine and very good economic relations. They are growing despite the war, so we had about 50% growth last year and 75% this year," he said, adding that it is very important to utilise the Ukraine-EU free trade agreement for Croatian companies.

The forum was attended by 85 business people from 65 companies, Burilović said.

Croatia has 26 big companies which grew after the 1990s war and after the 2020 earthquakes as well as 110 medium-sized and 20,000 small ones, many of which do business internationally and stand ready to do business in Ukraine, said HGK vice president Mirjana Čagalj.

The forum is also a starting place for Croatian companies interested in participating in future projects in the reconstruction of Ukraine and other forms of cooperation with Ukrainian economic operators.

To date, Croatian-Ukrainian cooperation mostly focused on the pharmaceutical, electrical and chemical industries, food and agriculture, and mechanical engineering. According to Croatian Bureau of Statistics data, trade amounted to US$161 million in 2022, which was up 33% on 2021.