Croatian Parliament Debates Failed F-16 Procurement

By 14 February 2019

ZAGREB, February 14, 2019 - Speaking ahead of a parliamentary debate on the failed acquisition of F-16 fighter jets from Israel, Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Davor Bernardić on Thursday called on the government to deliver all the documents from the failed process of F-16 procurement to parliament within 15 days, including a non-paper which the US ambassador had personally handed over to the prime minister.

"We want to determine the truth about the procurement of the aircraft squadron and the responsibility of the defence minister and government, as well as ensure that future procurement procedures, particularly those exceeding 1 billion kuna, are conducted transparently and legally and not through a direct deal and without a public tender," Bernardić told a press conference.

He reiterated that the SDP wanted parliament to determine the facts, to show that that procurement procedure was not conducted transparently and that the country's defence capabilities and international reputation were jeopardised.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday he expected the opposition Social Democratic Party's (SDP) motion for a parliamentary debate on the failed purchase of F-16 fighter jets from Israel to be rejected.

Speaking to reporters on arriving for the debate in parliament, Plenković said that the government had analysed the procurement process and would present its findings in the debate. He added that he expected the debate to be held in an atmosphere of tolerance.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said: "We want a well-reasoned debate based on facts and truth. The Croatian government has come here to tell the truth about this project. As you have seen, Croatia did everything correctly. We received all the necessary guarantees. Croatia did nothing wrong, and both Israel and the US have confirmed this."

Asked if he was still in favour of reaching a direct deal with the US, Krstičević replied: "First and foremost, I am in favour of making the Croatian army stronger."

More news on the F-16 acquisition can be found in the Politics section.