Croatia’s Economy Ministry Comments on Weapons Export to Saudi Arabia and Syria

By 25 February 2017

The Ministry reacted to recent media reports about sale of weapons to Syria through Saudi Arabia.

Croatian Ministry of Economy, Business and Trade responded to recent media reports in connection with alleged issuing of export licenses for military equipment, noting that in 2016 it did not issue a single license for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, and adding that it wanted to provide objective information in order to prevent further manipulation of the public opinion, reports on February 25, 2017.

“In 2016, the Ministry of Economy, Business and Trade did not issue any permits for the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. However, export licenses issued by the Ministry are valid for one year from the date of issuance, meaning during the next 12 months rather than until the end of the calendar year, which means that exports done in 2016 could have been realized as part of licenses issued in 2015”, said the Ministry in a statement.

It also pointed out that the Ministry of Economy, Business and Trade was obliged to prepare and submit to the government by 30 April 2017 an annual report on export licenses issued and used for military equipment in 2016, which it will do. Due to the length of time during which the licenses are valid and the deadlines for drafting the report, all relevant data which are presently available to the Ministry of Economy, Business and Trade are preliminary and incomplete, added the Ministry.

In order for the Ministry of Economy to have credible and precise data on requested, issued, refused and used licenses, businesses which take part in the export, import and transfer of military equipment and services have legal obligation to submit to the Ministry a cumulative written report upon expiration of their licenses and submit the relevant documentation, added the Ministry.

Based on these data, the Ministry will prepare its annual report for the government. Specific information on the licenses issued, as well as on the export of military equipment, will be subject to comment after the annual report for 2016 is drafted and adopted, concluded the Ministry.

In recent days, media reports have been published in Croatian and international media about alleged record sales of ammunition and weapons from Croatia to Saudi Arabia in 2016, and about allegations that the weapons eventually ended up on Syrian battlefields.