Friday, 13 May 2022

Milanović: Croatia Was Liberated By Its Own Forces And Not By International Coalition

ZAGREB, 13 May 2022 - President Zoran Milanović, who is the Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces, said in Petrinja on Friday that during the 1991-1995 Homeland War Croatia had not been liberated by an international coalition but "was successfully defended by its own forces."

Addressing an oath-taking ceremony for members of the 2nd Mechanised Battalion, President  Milanović told them that their predecessors "first defended and then liberated the country with very limited quantities of weapons." 

Milanović added that "the Croatian Army did not have foreign help at the time and Croatia was defended by its own forces, their heroism, ingenuity, cunning and courage."

"Croatia was not liberated by an international coalition. Croatia was liberated exclusively by Croatian forces relying solely on their own abilities – by Croatian sons and daughters, who joined forces with our brothers from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The siege of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina was not lifted by American and British planes, but by the Croatian Army and Croatian brigades – not by allied bombs, but by the Croatian Army at the entrance to Banja Luka," he said referring to the developments as a result of the 1995 Operation Storm.

"Only then was the siege of Sarajevo lifted and negotiations on the Dayton Accords began. These are very important things. There are still many witnesses. This will not be easily forgotten," he said.

Noting that "small nations cannot fight big battles," Milanović said that "when the big ones fight, the little ones move away and look after their own interests."

"We don’t have thousands of tanks, we won’t have them and we don’t need them. We must manage smartly, responsibly and cunningly what we have."

For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Joint Statement by A5 Members: Cooperation in Region to Strengthen Security

ZAGREB, 28 Sept, 2021 - The chiefs of staff of the member states of the US-Adriatic Charter (A5) signed a joint statement at a conference near Split on Tuesday in which they advocate strengthening cooperation between countries in Southeast Europe for the sake of common security.

The statement was also signed by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Michael L. Howard.

The conference, held in Podstrana outside Split, was organised by Croatia's Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

Apart from Croatian participants, also participating in the conference were the chiefs of staff of the US-Adriatic Charter countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the United States, representatives of the observer countries Kosovo and Slovenia, and the commanders of the national guards of the partner US federal states, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

"Since its establishment, the Charter has confirmed to be an important mechanism to strengthen regional cooperation and to assist countries in Southeast Europe on their journey to Euro-Atlantic, political, economic, security and defence institutions," the statement notes.

The A5 Charter is a regional security-defence initiative that was established in 2003 in an effort to assist member countries in accessing Euro-Atlantic associations.

"The point of the joint statement is that the US-Adriatic Charter is directed towards cooperation between countries in the region and our joint priority is to be secure," Admiral Hranj said.

"It is important that the United States is helping us through various mechanisms and one of those is cooperation with EUCOM," underscored Hranj, adding that that includes cooperation with the National Guard given that each of the A5 members has a partner in one of the US National Guards.

Croatia is the current chair of the US-Adriatic Charter and next year Montenegro will take over presidency of the initiative.

Montenegro's representatives informed us of their plans regarding US-Adriatic Charter presidency and I believe that Montenegro will successfully conduct its chairmanship, said Hranj.

Two large military exercises are planned for 2023 and the idea is to have all A5 member states participate with the assistance of U.S. forces, concluded Hranj.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

30th Anniversary of Military Police Marked

ZAGREB, 24 Aug, 2021 - The 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first Croatian military police unit was commemorated in Odra near Sisak on Tuesday.

A memorial plaque was unveiled on that occasion at the Odra Community Centre by the head of the Croatian Armed Forces Military Police Directorate, Lieutenant General Mate Laušić, and Brigadier Ivica Kranjčević, an envoy for President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović.

Addressing the event, Laušić recalled that military police had a special role in the 1991-95 war and that their work had been characterised by professionalism, education and resolve.

Kranjčević said that the first military police unit comprised a small group of honourable men with a strong feeling of patriotism, great resolve and professionalism, who knew how to act appropriately at any time during the Homeland War.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

President Zoran Milanović: There's no Boycott, Some Generals Received Invitation Too Late

ZAGREB, 4 Aug, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that the fact that some of the army generals will not attend the Victory Day celebration in Knin is not a boycott, but that they received invitations too late.

Who has announced a boycott? Ljubo Ćesić Rojs has not. Josip Đakić is not a general, he is a bum, and a member of parliament, in other words he is nobody. Rojs will be there, Pavao Miljavac will be there and Ante Kotromanović will be there. Of course, not everyone can come every year, but most  people will be there," Milanović said during a visit to the southern town of Sinj.

He said he did not think there was any pressure on some of the generals by the Defence Ministry "because no one can exert pressure on those people," but noted that some of the generals and commanders were put in an awkward position because they received the invitation the day before the event, which was the ministry's responsibility.

During the visit, Milanović conferred high state medals on retired Brigadier Dušan Viro and posthumously on Franciscan Frane Bilokapić for their acts of humanity during the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

He said he did not consider the decoration of General Mladen Kruljac disputable even though he had been found guilty of corruption. "He is a war commander and is decorated what he did in the war. No one is perfect, but what he did in the war is without a doubt impeccable, and he is not the only one."

Judge Dobronić is my candidate for Supreme Court President

Answering questions from the press, Milanović confirmed that 61-year-old Judge Radovan Dobronić is his candidate for the position of Supreme Court President.

He has responded to the call for applications and "now we will see what will those who undermined, torpedoed and dishonoured my previous candidate do," Milanović said, describing Dobronić as smart, educated, honourable and incorruptible.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Defense Minister Mario Banožić: Problem of Substance Abuse Among Military Personnel Under Scrutiny

ZAGREB, 28 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Božinović said on Wednesday the Croatian Armed Forces had zero tolerance for drug abuse, and in the context of the latest drug abuse cases, the minister announced stricter control and disciplinary measures aimed at reducing drug abuse to a minimum and protecting the reputation of the Croatian Armed Forces.

Speaking to the press ahead of an inner cabinet meeting, Banožić said that in accordance with the Drug Abuse Prevention Act, the military police were implementing emergency control measures.

He confirmed that along with the four soldiers who had tested positive for drugs in early July, another three soldiers tested positive for illegal substances last Friday while one more soldier tried to avoid testing.

A total of 30 soldiers in barracks in Split, Ploče, Udbina, Delnice, Vinkovci and  Velika Gorica have been tested so far and drug testing will continue.

The minister expects everyone in the Armed Forces to make joint efforts to prevent drug abuse, announcing a set of measures to deal with this problem.

Banožić said the military police were still investigating recent suicide cases in the Armed Forces and that the public would be notified of the results of the investigation in due course.

The minister also announced increased counselling for members of the Armed Forces.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Minister Tomo Medved: Central Celebration of Operation Storm to be Held at Knin Stadium

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - The 26th anniversary of Operation Storm will be organised in accordance with epidemiological measures and the central celebration will be held at the football stadium in Knin, while the ceremonial part will take place at the Knin Fortress, Veterans' Affairs Minister Tomo Medved said on Tuesday.

Based on guidance from the Croatian Public Health Institute on compliance with coronavirus restrictions, it has been assessed that the Knin stadium is the best place to organise a dignified commemoration of this important date in our recent history while respecting the epidemiological measures, Medved told a press conference after a meeting of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and relevant cabinet ministers with representatives of the association of retired Croatian army generals.

Before the commemoration, senior state officials will lay wreaths in front of the monument to the casualties and the 1991-1995 Homeland War.

Asked whether he expected representatives of the Serb minority to attend, after Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milošević of the Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS) attended last year's ceremony, Medved said that an agreement had not yet been reached as to which cabinet members would be attending.

Reporters were also interested in hearing whether anyone from the Croatian Defence Force (HOS), the paramilitary arm of the right-wing Croatian Party of Rights,  would attend, Medved said that the position of the Council for Facing the Past was clear and that all components of the Croatian army and police, as well as associations of Homeland War veterans and casualties, would be invited to attend that important anniversary.

Miljavac: The problem is that young people are being recruited with HOS insignia

The head of the association of retired army generals, Pavao Miljavac, said that the association supports the idea for the commemoration to be held at the stadium due to the COVID-19 situation.

As for HOS's participation in the war, Miljavac said that its members need to be honoured as they went to defend Croatia without any ideology.

"The problem to me is that young people, 19 or 20 year olds,  are again being recruited with HOS insignia," said Miljavac and quoted the late president Franjo Tuđman as saying: "Had we continued down that path, Croatia would hardly have been recognised."

During the meeting, the participants discussed disagreements over the Civilian Casualties of the Homeland War Act.

Miljavac underscored that the minister assured them that the law would be implemented in such a way that it will minimise any possible abuse of the law.

"Strict coordination will be conducted between the Interior Ministry and Croatian defenders. We have a list of who was where - almost 95%, so that it will be strictly implemented, and there shouldn't be any abuse," he said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Croatian President Zoran Milanović Meets With EU Military Committee Chairman

ZAGREB, 27 July, 2021 - Croatian President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović met on Tuesday with General Claudio Graziano, the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, the President's Office said in a press release.

Graziano thanked Milanović for the participation of the Croatian Armed Forces in EU-led missions and operations.

They talked about the Strategic Compass document which is expected to give the EU clear security and defence guidelines in the coming period.

The talks also focused on battle groups, operations and missions led by the EU, cooperation between the EU and NATO, and the development of the Union's defence and security capabilities, the press release said.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian Defence Minister and Chief-of-Staff on Official Visit to USA

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Croatian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff , Admiral Robert Hranj are on an official visit to the USA to mark the 25th anniversary of cooperation with the Minnesota National Guard, as part of the State Partnership Programme, the Defence Ministry reported on Wednesday.

This is Minister Banožić's first official visit to the United States since stepping into office.

Banožić and Hranj visited the Sikorsky helicopter factory in Connecticut on Monday where they met with the company's executives and president Paul Lemmo.

The company is a subsidiary of the Lockhead Martin company which also producers UH-60 Black Hawk and SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. 

The Defence Ministry (MORH) points out the importance of military and technological cooperation with the USA which includes donations and the procurement of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the armed forces. During the meeting, Minister Banožić said that a US donation in 2019 was an important support to Croatia's national policy aimed at transitioning to equipment originating in the West.

"After that donation, we decided to procure two more Black Hawk helicopters and have allocated $85 million for that purpose. Our ambition is to continue developing this investment because, being a reliable and credible member of the NATO alliance, the transition to Western technology is the only possible and correct path," Banožić said. He expressed his satisfaction that at the moment Croatia's military pilots and aviation technicians are attending various training courses in the US, specialising in particular on the  Black Hawk helicopter.

"We also have two pilots gaining additional flying hours in Minnesota in cooperation and assistance of the Minnesota National Guard. This is important for us, not only in the context of buying equipment but in the context of security because we will obtain the necessary support in training," added Banožić.

Black Hawk helicopters can be used to support civilian institutions - in fighting wildfires, search and rescue missions, and emergency medical transport.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Defence Minister Banožić: "We Will Make Every Effort to Prevent Unfortunate Incidents"

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - The Defence Ministry will make every effort to prevent unfortunate incidents in the Croatian Army, after five servicemen died off duty in less than a month, Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Tuesday.

"Because of unfortunate incidents that occurred in the Croatian Army, we will invest all our efforts in the further development of programmes to prevent such incidents," the minister said, expressing his deep regret over the deaths of the servicemen.

He did not discuss the circumstances of the deaths.

"Profoundly shaken by the unfortunate incidents that happened recently, I express my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the Croatian soldiers who passed away. The loss of any member of the Croatian Army is a great loss to the system because it is they who contribute to the development of our Armed Forces," Banožić said, according to a press release from the Ministry

He said that these incidents were in no way connected with the situation in the Armed Forces, and that the Defence Ministry and the Army would do all in their power to ensure that there were as few such incidents as possible.

The Ministry said that servicemen and servicewomen could contact psychologists in their units at all times for counselling.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

President Zoran Milanović: "No Causal Link Between Army Deaths"

ZAGREB, 20 July, 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday there was no causal link between recent deaths in the military.

"There is no causal link between the cases, but there might be a link to some elements of social pathology and disorders which exist within and outside the army," he told the press in Varaždin, adding that he would say what he meant exactly "when some time has passed."

"These things happen, but when something like this happens in the army, it attracts attention and the public raises an eyebrow."

Milanović said deaths in the army were at the level of those in the general population and lower, adding that the recent deaths could not be linked to possible problems in the system.

Asked about soldiers caught using illegal drugs, he said that was a more complex case. "I won't comment. Let's wait for the investigation to be over."

Asked if there was any information that could shed light on the matter, he said, "There is, but I can't talk about it. Their commanders know what they are and I know. As does the Defence Ministry."

He called the whole situation awkward but not shameful. "It's a disgrace and a disaster when soldiers commit war crimes, but the Croatian army didn't do that, only exceptionally and long ago."

Milanović said all armies had problems with soldiers using illegal drugs. "It's good that they have been caught," he added, dismissing claims that the security system was in danger.

Asked if that was not normal behaviour, he said it was not and that it would be punished.

COVID vaccination

Speaking of vaccination against COVID, he said Croatia was neither the worst nor the best. "Once again, I call on everyone, get vaccinated," he said, adding that he doubted threats would work.

Milanović said he was for everything getting back to normal after the tourist season. "This hysteria that is going on, which is spilling over into Croatia from Western countries, is a major stumbling of human intelligence and reason." 

Asked about a constitutional suit filed by the Voice of Entrepreneurs association, which claims that certain businesses were discriminated against during the pandemic, Milanović said it would have been better if the parliamentary majority had been deciding on restrictions because the problems would not have been so extensive.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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