President Michael D Higgins began a State visit to Croatia today.

Over the next three days, the President will focus on strengthening the cultural and economic ties between Croatia and Ireland.

The visit comes just weeks before Croatia joins the European Union.

President Higgins will deliver an address tomorrow at Zagreb University, where he will reflect on Ireland's 40-year membership of the EU.

Given his recent criticism of the economic austerity backed by Brussels, many will be closely watching to see if he expands on this theme.

Croatia is currently experiencing some financial difficulties and there is expected to be much interest in how Ireland handled its economic problems.

But the State visit offers opportunities to strengthen the cultural and economic links between the two countries.

Current trade is modest, but tourism and education are seen as possible growth areas.