Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Croatian FM Gordan Grlić Radman: Key for Afghanistan to Maintain Progress Made in Past 20 Years

ZAGREB, 22 Sept, 2021 - Afghanistan has come a long way in the past 20 years, making progress with the support of the international community, and now it's key that these accomplishments are maintained, notably regarding the rights of women and girls, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in New York on Tuesday.

He was speaking in a ministerial meeting on Afghanistan as part of the 76th UN General Assembly. The meeting focused on maintaining the achievements of the international engagement in the country over the past 20 years, with emphasis on encouraging the prospects of women and girls and ensuring their access to education.

I believe we all agree that Afghanistan needs our constant commitment and assistance as well as support in recovery, Grlić Radman said, calling on the new government in Afghanistan to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, includes the rights of women and girls.

Croatia carried out in Afghanistan more than 70 development and humanitarian projects in education, healthcare and ensuring business opportunities for women. Most of the projects were aimed at strengthening the social status of women. The presence of Croatian women diplomats contributed to better understanding the needs of Afghan women and to bigger efficiency in project implementation, the minister said.

Together with its partners and allies, Croatia will continue to encourage Afghanistan to honour the international commitments undertaken by previous governments, which should lead to renewed international community commitment and support to the Afghan people in using the chance for a better future, he added.

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Thursday, 26 March 2020

11th Croatian Contingent to Return from Afghanistan

ZAGREB, March 26, 2020 - Croatia will repatriate its troops who have completed their tour of duty in Afghanistan as part of NATO's Resolute Support peace mission and whose return was temporarily delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government decided on Thursday that the Croatian personnel would be flown back by a Croatia Airlines plane.

The repatriation of the 11th Croatian contingent from Afghanistan was scheduled for 27 March. A total of 140 troops are returning from Afghanistan, including 105 Croatians and 35 soldiers from allied partner countries (Montenegro - 26, North Macedonia - 7, and Albania - 2).

This contingent has already transferred its duty to the 12th contingent which comprises 108 soldiers.

Explaining the decision, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said that the repatriation of the 11th contingent was temporarily delayed because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

"However, we have ascertained that their further stay in Afghanistan after their tour of duty has ended, represents a health and safety risk and that the return of all members of the 11th contingent is necessary. The safety of every Croatian soldier is an absolute priority," said Krstičević.

"It is our responsibility to return every Croatian soldier to their family. They have completed their duty and now this final step is up to us," he added.

More news about the mission in Afghanistan can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Croatia's Job in Afghanistan Is Done, Says President

ZAGREB, March 6, 2020 - Croatia's job in Afghanistan is done and going there today is probably the last Croatian army contingent, President Zoran Milanović said on Friday.

The Croatian army has participated in the missions in Afghanistan since 2003. Today the 12th contingent is departing for the Resolute Support mission. A decision to that effect was signed by Milanovic, the Armed Forces Supreme Commander.

"I didn't want to dismantle a system that was built for 16 years and not sign the decision on sending another contingent to Afghanistan only two weeks after stepping into office," he told reporters.

"But after that, especially in light of the US-Taliban agreements, our job there is done. Especially considering that the US signed those agreements on its behalf. The Afghan government didn't participate in that, we even less. Therefore, we will be there for the next six months and I think that's fair enough."

He said a decision on the Croatian army leaving Afghanistan must be made by Croatian politicians. "Not the army, not our allies, not NATO and not the US on our behalf without our knowledge in negotiations we didn't even know were taking place."

"That's a US right and in 16 years we have contributed to that mission. Our army is needed here," said the president.

More news about Croatia and Afghanistan can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Plenković Confirms He and Milanović Discussed NATO Mission in Afghanistan

ZAGREB, February 20, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday afternoon that he had already held talks with the newly inaugurated president Zoran Milanović on the appointment of the new chief-of-staff of the armed forces and the engagement of Croatian troops in the peace mission in Afghanistan.

"Yes, we discussed some of those topics this morning. One of them being the appointment of the new chief-of-staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. The government will tomorrow nominate Mr Hranj and the new president has agreed with that," Plenković told reporters ahead of a meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leadership on Wednesday afternoon.

The PM confirmed that he had spoken with Milanović on the phone and that one of the topics was the participation of Croatia's contingent in the NATO-led peace mission in Afghanistan.

Plenković explained that they had agreed that the 12th contingent would be deployed now that the engagement of the 11th contingent had ended.

Milanović is supposed to sign the decision on the deployment of the contingent and after that senior officials will discuss the further presence of Croatian troops in that Asian country, according to Plenković's explanation.

Earlier in the day, Milanović said that he would agree with the government's proposal that Rear Admiral Robert Hranj be appointed new military chief of staff. In his address to reporters Milanovic, who was inaugurated on Tuesday, said that he had already discussed this topic with Prime Minister Plenković.

Speaking about the presence of Croatian troops in Afghanistan, on 15 February Milanović said that the Croatian Army had not belonged there for some time now.

"Croatia can make a decision entirely on its own, by sticking to the rules of gentlemanly behaviour and fairness. In half a year, things should be positioned differently," he said when asked by reporters if Croatia would make an autonomous decision on withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.

He said that Croatian troops had not belonged in Afghanistan for three years and that troops should be withdrawn.

"Our soldiers who serve in the mission there will have the opportunity to use their competence and experience and make some money in other parts of the world. That's national policy," he stressed.

Currently 60,000 NATO troops are participating in the mission in Afghanistan, including 110 from Croatia.

Last Friday, Plenković said that a decision to withdraw Croatian troops could only be the result of agreement, within Croatia and at the international level.

More news about Croatia and the NATO can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Plenković Comments on Possible Withdrawal from Afghanistan

ZAGREB, February 15, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday that a decision to withdraw Croatian troops from Afghanistan can only be a result of agreement, within Croatia and on the international level.

"That operation is continuing. We've exchanged quite a large number of contingents there and shown responsibility. We are a member of NATO and the (European) Union. We participate in key security activities on a global level and there must be agreement on any such decision, not just within Croatia," said Plenković, adding that other partners' positions would be taken into account.

The Jutarnji List daily said on Friday that Croatia could begin withdrawing its troops from the mission in Afghanistan. Quoting a source at the Defence Ministry, the paper said that there was talk of the future of that operation at a meeting of NATO defence ministers held on Wednesday and Thursday, which was also attended by Croatia's Defence Minister Damir Krstičević.

Discussed was the future of the operation in the context of US-sponsored peace negotiations which Afghan authorities are conducting with the Taliban in an effort to end the conflict.

According to Jutarnji List, the meeting "concluded that members of the mission, including Croatia, are inevitably heading toward reducing the number of their troops."

"I spoke today with Deputy Prime Minister Krstičević who attended the NATO ministerial meeting and I asked him if that topic was discussed. There was no talk of that at all, so all in due time," said Plenković when asked if Croatia was withdrawing from the mission.

More news about Croatia and NATO can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

NATO General Thanks Croatia, Its Troops for Serving in Afghanistan

ZAGREB, December 21, 2019 - The commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces - Afghanistan, General Austin Scott Miller, on Friday thanked Croatia and its troops for serving in Afghanistan.

Miller met Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević at the mission's HQ in Kabul, the Croatian Defence Ministry said in a press release.

Krstičević, on an official visit, and Miller talked about Croatia's contribution to the Mission, NATO's plans for the Mission's future and the security situation in Afghanistan.

Miller thanked the Croatian people, saying that serving in Afghanistan was important for all NATO states, for partnership within NATO, and that it was important to protect everyone.

He also thanked Krstičević and Croatia for their dedication and the committed service of its troops in Afghanistan.

"Croatia is one of the 36 countries participating in the mission in Afghanistan. Together with our partners, we are contributing to the establishment of international peace and security, we are counselling and mentoring Afghan forces so they can assume responsibility for peace and security in their state," Krstičević said, adding that he was proud to hear Miller praising the Croatian troops.

Krstičević and Miller extended greetings to the 11th Croatian contingent in Afghanistan and their families for the upcoming holidays.

More news about Croatia and the NATO can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 20 December 2019

Croatian Defence Minister Meets with Afghan Counterpart in Kabul

ZAGREB, December 20, 2019 - Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević met with his Afghan counterpart Haji Asadullah Khalid in Kabul on Thursday, discussing the security and political situation in Afghanistan, Croatia's contribution to peace efforts and opportunities for the Croatian defence industry, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

Khalid thanked Croatia for its assistance, notably "brave Croatian soldiers for everything they are doing for us, for advising and mentoring our forces. The Afghan people will never forget the courage of Croatian soldiers."

He extended his condolences to the family of Croatian soldier Josip Briški, who had been killed in a Taliban attack in July, and wished a speedy recovery to two other Croatian soldiers who had been wounded in the same incident.

Krstičević said that Croatia had been present in Afghanistan for 16 years, with more than 6,000 Croatian personnel having served in that country. "Together with the other allies and partners, we are contributing to peace and security in Afghanistan. We are mentoring Afghan security forces and are full of understanding for the people of Afghanistan, respecting their culture and customs. We have helped Afghan security forces to be better."

Khalid said that the security situation in the country was slowly improving and that he expected further negotiations.

"I hope time will soon come for (Afghan forces) to take responsibility for security and peace in Afghanistan," Krstičević added.

Khalid showed an interest in the Croatian defence industry and the possibility of Afghan forces being equipped with Croatian products. Further talks on future cooperation were agreed.

More news about relations between Croatia and Afghanistan can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Defence Minister Visits Croatian Contingent in Afghanistan

ZAGREB, December 19, 2019 - Defence Minister Damir Krstičević visited the Croatian contingent in Afghanistan on Wednesday, in the run-up to the Christmas holidays, and on that occasion he met German Brigadier General Juergen Broetz who praised the Croatian contribution to NATO's mission in that Asian country, the defence ministry stated.

"The Croatian troops are doing a great job here and giving contribution in several segments: healthcare, military police and the command," Brig. Gen. Juergen Broetz, the TAAC North Commander of NATO's Resolute Support in Afghanistan, was quoted as saying.

He expressed gratitude to Croatia for its great contribution to this mission.

Krstičević, who visited members of the 11th contingent of the Croatian Army in the Marmal camp, said that Croatian troops were recognised as professional highly-trained soldiers.

The Croatian delegation also laid a wreath for soldiers killed in Afghanistan, including Josip Briški, who died in an attack of Talibans in Kabul, and who was the first Croatian serviceman to die in this mission.

Currently, 110 Croatian soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan, and some of them are in the TAAC North, which stands for Train Advise Assist Command.

It focuses on training, advising and assisting (TAA) Afghan National Defense and Security Forces development in several key areas. The efforts taken by TAAC-North within the Resolute Support mission are part of the broader engagement of the international community in Afghanistan to ensure Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorism. TAAC-North conducts the TAA mission with the 209th Afghan National Army Corps and the 217th (Pamir) Afghan National Army Corps (former 20th Division). Including TAA for the nine provincial police departments and other security forces.

Currently, approximately 2,000 Coalition Forces and 45,000 ANDSF Forces are operating in the area of responsibility (AOR) of TAAC-North.

NATO's Resolute Support includes 17,000 soldiers from 39 members of the Alliance in Afghanistan.

More news about Croatia and the NATO can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

11th Croatian Contingent Departs for Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan

ZAGREB, September 5, 2019 - The 11th Croatian contingent numbering 110 members, including seven women, was seen off in Zagreb on Wednesday to the Resolute Support peace mission in Afghanistan in which 39 states are participating, including 27 NATO members, with 17,000 troops.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Defence Minister Damir Krstičević as Prime Minister Andrej Plenković's envoy, President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović's defence and national security advisor Zrinko Peternel, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mirko Šundov, and partner countries' military envoys.

A minute's silence was observed in memory of lance corporal Josip Briški, a member of the 10th Croatian contingent killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan in July.

Minister Krstičević thanked all Croatian Army members and their families for their support during preparations for the mission and for their understanding for the calling of their dearest ones.

Speaking of the new circumstances and remembering Briški, he said the circumstances of participating in the mission were constantly changing and that the situation in Afghanistan was complex. "We must be aware of the circumstances and the environment we are in and be focused on the job. What is certain is that this government is following the current situation and we are ready to adopt adequate and timely decisions."

The 11th Croatian contingent will be deployed in the Train Advise and Assist Command – North in Mazar-i-Sharif and in the Resolute Support HQ in Kabul. The Croatian troops will also advise the Afghan army, police and special forces.

The contingent includes 38 troops of partner countries - 27 from Montenegro, seven from North Macedonia, two from Albania and two from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More news about Croatia and NATO can be found in the Politics section.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Two Croatian Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan Recovering Successfully

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Two members of the Croatian contingent of NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan who were wounded in a suicide attack in Kabul last week are recovering successfully, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

The more seriously wounded soldier has been transferred to Germany for rehabilitation at the US military hospital Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near the Rammstein Air Base. The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the largest US military hospital outside the United States, specialising in war surgery.

The other, slightly injured soldier has returned to Croatia and is in good condition.

The two servicemen were wounded in Kabul on July 24 when a suicide bomber rammed into a military convoy en route to the airport. Lance Corporal Josip Briški, aged 27, was killed in the attack, the first Croatian fatality since Croatia deployed its troops there in 2003. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

More news about the incident can be found in the Politics section.

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