(Hina) - Romania and Croatia want to intensify their bilateral relations, both political and economic, and the two countries' membership of the EU and NATO provides a framework for stepping up cooperation, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Davor Ivo Stier said after talks with his Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu in Bucharest on Tuesday.
"Over the past 25 years, namely since the establishment of their diplomatic relations, Romania and Croatia have joined the EU and NATO. This is a framework within which we would like to step up our bilateral cooperation," Stier said.
He added that the two countries have prepared two bilateral agreements for signing which would give an additional impetus to bilateral cooperation. One agreement refers to the protection of classified information and the other is a memorandum regulating strengthening the two countries' military cooperation.
Commenting on Croatia-Romania trade relations, Stier announced the introduction of a direct flight connecting the two capitals. The flight, to be launched 19 May, will take place three times a week.
"We are confident this is a step toward bringing the two countries closer together," Stier said.
He recalled that the two countries also shared the Danube River, underscoring that cooperation had been formed between the ports of Constanta and Vukovar. Stier expressed satisfaction with the fact that the number of Romanian tourists visiting Croatia rose by 20%.
He confirmed that both countries wanted to become full members of the Schengen area, announcing cooperation between Zagreb and Bucharest regarding the chairmanship of the Council of the European Union in the times full of challenge.
Romania will preside over the Council of the EU in the first half of 2019, while Croatia is scheduled to take the chair in the first half of 2020.
Stier said both countries saw Europe integral and without further divisions, with the strong support to the enlargement policy.
The Croatian minister underscored excellent cooperation in the protection of ethnic minorities -- the Croat minority in Romania and the Romanian minority in Croatia -- and announced the opening of a Romanian Orthodox parish in Zagreb.
Stier also held talks with the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Daniel.
This is the first visit in the past seven years that a Croatian foreign minister paid to Bucharest.