Thursday, 12 December 2019

Croatia to Get Two Black Hawk Choppers from the US, Buy Another Two

ZAGREB, December 12, 2019 - At its session on Wednesday the government gave a green light to the Defence Ministry to procure four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Croatian Armed Forces - two helicopters will be donated and two will be purchased, of a total value of 1.167 billion kuna.

The aircraft will be procured in the period from 2021 to 2026 in partnership with the US government.

The United States will donate two Black Hawk helicopters with spare parts and equipment and Croatia will purchase another two identical helicopters from the United States. The partnership includes pilot and ground crew training as well as logistic support.

The US donation amounts to 360.64 million kuna and the value of the entire project is 1.167 billion kuna.

The remaining 804.23 million kuna will be secured from the state budget in the period between 2021 and 2026.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said the procurement of the helicopters was unanimously supported by the relevant parliamentary committee.

More news about Croatian Army can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Croatian Ministers to Present Croatia's EU Presidency Priorities in Washington

ZAGREB, December 11, 2019 - Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Božinović and Justice Minister Dražen Bošnjaković will attend in Washington on Wednesday an EU-US ministerial meeting on judicial and security matters at which they will also present the priorities of Croatia's Council of the EU presidency in the first half of 2020.

The meeting will discuss police and judicial cooperation, notably e-evidence, combating terrorism, better cooperation between European Union and United States agencies, dealing with hybrid threats and the application of new technologies (5G, drones, artificial intelligence), all of which will be high on the list of priorities of the presidency.

Therefore Croatia, alongside current Council of the EU chair Finland, is at the centre of attention in Washington, Bošnjaković told Hina, adding that a meeting like this one in Washington would be held in Dubrovnik next year.

On Tuesday, Bošnjaković and US Attorney General William Barr signed agreements whereby Croatia and the US regulate mutual legal assistance and extraditions, which is also important for waiving US visas for Croatian citizens.

The Croatian and US governments have been intensively cooperating on that since Minister Božinović last visited the US in early 2018. Alongside security criteria and an effective implementation of previously concluded agreements, it has been said recently that the number of rejected visa applications has dropped to a record 4.02%, the threshold being 3%, which is the last condition for including Croatia in the Visa Waiver Program.

Božinović will talk about that also with US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Over the past two years, the Croatian police, the FBI and the DEA have undertaken numerous successful operations, notably Nana, Nexus and Familia. Future cooperation will be discussed at Quantico and the DEA Training Academy.

On Friday, Božinović will hold meetings at the State Department as well as with representatives of leading US companies from ACEBA with whom he recently discussed possible cooperation in joint projects in Zagreb.

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

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Croatia-USA Defence Forum Held

ZAGREB, November 14, 2019 - Croatia can be proud of its defence industry and the progress it has made, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said at a Croatia-USA defence forum in Zagreb on Wednesday, according to a statement from the ministry.

The event was organised with the aim of encouraging further economic cooperation and relations between the USA and Croatia in the defence and security sector.

"Croatia is turning resolutely to the future in terms of state policy, research and economy. We are particularly proud of the Croatian defence industry and the progress it has made," the minister said, citing in that context the UTILIS company, which was granted co-funding by the European Structural and Investment Funds for a 4.5 million kuna project which the European Defence Agency has called the first full defence project to be awarded money from the European Structural and Investment Funds.

Krstičević said that the EU and Croatia were strategic partners to the USA, noting that Croatia-USA defence cooperation was strong, constant and very concrete, as evidenced by numerous US donations of various military and other equipment in the last 20 years.

The Croatian-US defence forum was organised by the American-Central European Business Association and the Croatian Defence Industry Competitiveness Cluster, in cooperation with the US Embassy, the Defence Ministry and the Zagreb Innovation Centre.

The event was also attended by US Ambassador Robert Kohorst and Croatia's Ambassador to the USA, Pjer Šimunović.

Ambassador Kohorst said that over the past decade the USA had invested more than 600 million euro worth of assistance in Croatia's defence sector, adding that he looked forward to the further development of Croatia-USA relations.

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

Thursday, 31 October 2019

U.S. Approves Sale of Two Black Hawk Helicopters to Croatia

ZAGREB, October 31, 2019 - The State Department has approved the sale of two UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of 115 million dollars to Croatia, according to information published on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Wednesday.

The Croatian government has requested a possible sale of two UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters in standard USG configuration with designated unique equipment and Government Furnished Equipment (GFE), says DSCA.

Its press release also specifies elements of equipment.

The total estimated program cost is 115 million dollars.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally. The sale of these UH-60 helicopters to Croatia will significantly increase its capability to provide troop lift, border security, counterterrorism, medical evacuation, search and rescue, re-supply/external lift, and combat support," reads the press release.

"These UH-60 helicopters will allow for interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets.

Croatia intends to use these defence articles and services to modernize its armed forces and expand its existing army architecture in its efforts to provide multi-mission support in the region as well as combat terrorist threats.

Croatia will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces, the US agency says.

The proposed sale of this equipment will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

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

Friday, 25 October 2019

Croatian, US Defence Ministers Meet

ZAGREB, October 25, 2019 - Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević met his US counterpart Mark Esper in Brussels on Thursday ahead of a meeting of NATO defence ministers, and this was their first meeting.

The two officials confirmed the high level of relations between Croatia and the United States, which is a key ally in defence and security, and underlined the commitment to continuing the successful defence cooperation, the Croatian Defence Ministry said in a press release.

Krstičević said Croatia was a responsible partner and committed ally, and Esper commended its contribution to NATO's peace support missions, activities and operations.

Krstičević informed Esper about plans for the development of the Croatian army and thanked him for US donations and support for its modernisation. Esper said the US was willing to continue supporting the development of the Croatian army's capabilities.

The priorities of the Croatia-US defense cooperation are defined in three areas - building the Croatian army's defense capabilities through joint exercises and training; contributing to international security through participation in NATO's peace support and cooperation operations and missions; and promoting stability in Southeast Europe by cooperating within the US-Adriatic Charter and by jointly assisting NATO aspirants, the ministry said.

The two officials also talked about global and regional security and politics.

On Thursday and Friday, NATO's 29 defense ministers are discussing outlays for defence, participation in NATO's peace support operations and missions, preparedness, and hybrid threats.

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

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Visas and Double Taxation Hamper Croatian-US Business Cooperation

ZAGREB, October 15, 2019 - The visa regime and double taxation make it difficult for Croatian companies to start a business in the United States, and they also hamper US investment in Croatia, so it would be good to resolve these issues as soon as possible, a seminar entitled "America Made Easy" was told on Tuesday.

The seminar was organised by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia and the Avitus Group.

HGK vice-president Ivan Barbarić said that the visa regime and double taxation were the two biggest obstacles for Croatian businesses in the US.

"I hope that the request to abolish visas will be granted in the coming years. As for double taxation, Croatia is in fact the only EU member state that has not signed a double taxation avoidance agreement with the US," Barbarić said, adding that double taxation had a negative effect not only on Croatian companies but also on US investment in Croatia.

He said that this mostly affected Croatian IT firms such as producers of video games, whose revenue is cut by 30 percent because of double taxation, adding that this makes them less competitive on the US market.

US ambassador Robert Kohorst said that the US government has a special team preparing double taxation agreements with countries worldwide, including Croatia.

Our administration is primarily focused on large countries, but we systematically try to encourage the Department of the Treasury to move Croatia up on the list of priorities. It's good that the agreement with Croatia requires no special preparations, but can be based on agreements with other EU member states. As for visas, Croatia should drop below three percent of refused visa applications. Currently you are very close to this figure, and I think it's only a matter of time before visas are lifted, possibly as early as the end of 2020, Kohorst said.

He referred Croatian businesses to the Select USA program which the US administration has launched for foreign companies and investors. The US is a very competitive and complex market. One often needs assistance to be able to do business there, and it is difficult for foreigners to decide where and how to start a business, he added.

The value of Croatian-US trade last year reached $620 million, of which Croatian exports accounted for slightly over $400 million. In the first half of this year Croatian exports to the US increased by 25 percent compared with the same period last year.

More news about Croatia-USA relations can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

US Scraps Visas for Poles, Croatians Still Need Visas

ZAGREB, October 5, 2019 - The United States has lifted visa requirements for Poles, President Trump announced on Friday, and now only four more EU countries, including Croatia, need visas for travel to the US.

Trump announced on Friday that Poland has officially been admitted to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are the only remaining EU member states that do not enjoy the principle of reciprocity between the European Union and the United States and their citizens are at a disadvantage compared with citizens of other EU member states.

Brussels has tried to speed up the resolution of this issue, but these countries must first meet the basic criterion and reduce the visa refusal rate to less than three percent. In the case of Croatia, although this rate has been on the decline, it still stood at 5.1 percent in 2017.

In recent years Croatia and Cyprus have been mentioned as positive examples, close to meeting the formal criteria for visa waiver, but only Poland was now allowed into the VWP.

Although the European Commission was supposed to introduce visa requirements for citizens of the US and Canada by 12 April 2016 because they did not lift visas for all EU citizens, it eventually did not do so.

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

Thursday, 3 October 2019

New US Import Tariffs Won't Have Major Impact on Croatia

ZAGREB, October 3, 2019 - The Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) said on Thursday new US import tariffs would not significantly impact Croatian exports to the United States or the Croatian economy.

"Based on the information we have, we think the new tariffs the US will impose on products from Croatia won't have a significant direct impact on Croatian exports to the US or a significant direct impact on the Croatian economy," the HGK said in response to a query from Hina.

Although the tariffs will make access to the US market more difficult for some businesses, higher tariffs for Croatia will be imposed on agricultural goods which do not account for major Croatian exports to the US, the HGK said.

According to the national statistical office, Croatian exports to the US in 2018 totalled $403.9 million while imports were $213.8 million.

On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization granted the United States permission to tax as much as $7.5 billion of European exports annually over European subsidies to the plane maker Airbus. The US has announced that it will place a 25% tax on food imports from the European Union, including milk, dairy products, meat, fruit, juices, wine and whiskey.

The US plans to impose the tax on Croatian goods such as milk and dairy products, pork and its products, shellfish, prunes, cherries, peaches, pears, fruit and vegetable juices, except tomato juice.

European food producers have said the tariffs will cause them major damage.

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

Thursday, 3 October 2019

New Croatian Pistol Attracts Nothing But Praise from US Market

A Croatian pistol from a well known firearms company has attracted nothing but praise from across the Atlantic on the American market, placing yet another Croatian product in high esteem on foreign/distant markets.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 3rd of October, 2019, the Croatian firearms company HS Produkt has premiered a brand new Hellcat pistol today, marketed under the Springfield Armory brand on the American market, which is currently the best concealed carry, personal safety and self-defense pistol, according to bot its constructors and its end users.

The Hellcat pistol is a product of two long years of painstaking development alongside some top engineers, shooters and self-defense experts. With smaller dimensions and stunning tank capacity, the gun has already conquered the American market, which has nothing but words of absolute praise for weapons of Croatian origin, for their ergonomics and for their enviable precision.

This is a pistol from the segment of 9 mm microcompact pistols that has emerged as fierce competition on the dominant SIG Sauer P365 pistol market. The Hellcat is currently available in two configurations; standard and OSP (Optic Sight Pistol), which provides for the installation of optical devices, this also applies to the previous model XD used and liked by American police and federal agencies.

What separates the Croatian-made Hellcat from other pistols on the market is its tank, because its standard capacity is 11 plus 1 ammo, making it unique in the world (the P365 has a capacity of 10 plus 1), and there is an extended version with 13 plus 1 ammunition of 9 millimeters, according to a report from tportal.

With its small, comfortable size and advanced features, the already popular Croatian Hellcat offers strong durability and a special-purpose forged steel pipe.

The gun frame is lightweight and strong with a seamless texture. According to the users of the pistol, the weapon is very comfortable to carry and ergonomically tailored for maximum control, with maximum flexibility as needed.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia page for much more on Croatian products and services.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Croatian President Travelling to United States

ZAGREB, September 18, 2019 - President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is travelling to the United States on Thursday to attend the 74th UN General Assembly, where she will support the implementation of UN reform, advocate the strengthening of multilateralism, and warn about the importance of sustainable development and preserving the environment, notably the protection of the Adriatic Sea.

Grabar-Kitarović will address the General Assembly next Tuesday.

By advocating the importance of multilateralism, which is currently in a crisis and which is especially important for smaller states, Croatia is not ignoring bilateral relations, a source in the president's office has said, adding that she is welcome among world leaders.

The Adriatic is "a small and closed sea that is very important for Croatia," the source says, recalling that it is threatened by plastic and that the garbage which currents carry from Montenegro and Albania is a danger to Croatia's tourism.

Grabar-Kitarović will use her address to present the "Zlarin Without Plastic" project, which was launched on the island of Zlarin last year.

"Great progress has been achieved in a year. It's the first Croatian island without plastic and this carries a global message. The president will present, at the global level, Croatia's successes and Zlarin is our example of good practice," the source has said.

On Monday, Grabar-Kitarović will attend a climate summit as well as be a guest at an Atlantic Council meeting on transatlantic relations. She will also meet presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Hashim Thaci of Kosovo and Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia as well as the King of Jordan, Abdullah II.

The talks with President Erdogan and King Abdullah II will focus on migrations and the latest crisis in the Middle East, the source has said.

On Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarović will attend a political forum on sustainable development as well as an evening reception organised by US President Donald Trump. She will also meet the leaders of Chile, Argentina and Colombia as well as Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) president Jose Angel Gurria Trevino to lobby for Croatia's accession to the OECD, which is currently opposed by Slovenia.

On Wednesday, Grabar-Kitarović will moderate a panel on sustainable development and organise a meeting of 75 former and incumbent women presidents and prime ministers, having taken over the Council of Women World Leaders chairmanship in March.

She will also meet UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. UN Women is the global leader in gender equality advocacy and Grabar-Kitarović is one of the four women presidents in the organisation's 193 member states elected by direct vote.

Before New York, Grabar-Kitarović will visit Cleveland and Pittsburgh, while after New York she is going to Boston to visit her daughter at Harvard.

She will return to the US in October to receive the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Award.

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

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