Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Defence Minister Mario Banožić: Reintroducing Conscription Being Considered

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Wednesday the reintroduction of conscription was being considered and that, although he was sure it was the right move, he felt that Croatian society still had to deal with this subject a lot.

Speaking on Croatian Radio, Banožić said he tried to research the subject in recent months.

He said almost two in three citizens supported mandatory military service, but added that the motive for introducing it was important, and that was security and stability.

Parents are for introducing conscription first and foremost as an educational measure, which is not the right motive, he said.

Croatia needs security, stability and serving one's country as the motive, ideals which are the foundations of the Croatian army, courage and the desire to feel secure and whole, Banožić said.

Croatian society still has to deal with this subject a lot, but reintroducing mandatory military service is the right step, he added.

Asked if there was a road map and when that could be expected, he said that for now the ministry was researching public opinion and how to manage the process because of the sensitive subject.

Especially considering that once you abandon such a model, bringing conscription back is a much tougher challenge, he added.

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Photo Exhibition For Croatian Army's 30th Anniversary

ZAGREB, 26 May, 2021 - On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Croatian Army and Croatian Ground Army Day, the Dr Franjo Tuđman Military Academy organised a photo exhibition, with each photo representing one year of the army's existence.

The exhibition may be seen from today until 3 June and from noon to 8 pm every day at the Zagreb Student Centre's French Pavillion, the Defence Ministry said in a press release.

The exhibition will also be shown at the Zagreb National and University Library until 31 May from 8 am to 9 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to 2 pm on Saturday.

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

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Fighter Jet Decision to Alter Croatian Military Import-Export Balance

May the 22nd, 2021 - The Croatian military and its export-import balance is set to alter quite significantly following the country finally having made a decision on the purchase of fighter jets, ending a saga which seemed to be endless.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Brnic writes, Croatian military export-import balances are going to undergo changes over the coming years, because after a recent session of the Defense Council, it has now become clear that the Croatian Government will finally make the official final decision on the procurement of a combat squadron next week.

This decision will primarily change the current relationship in which Croatia exports more weapons and other military goods and services than it imports.

Last year, according to a report submitted to the Government by Economy Minister Tomislav Coric yesterday, Croatian military exports in 2020 were worth a total of 835 million kuna, and imports amounted to just under 129 million kuna.

The report doesn't provide a detailed overview of those exporters, nor does it go into deal about the types of goods and services it deals in, but most of the exports relate to HS Produkt, the Karlovac-based arms manufacturer, which normally accounts for the majority of exports, followed by Sestan-Busch, which produces helmets, and Dok-ing, which sells its self-propelled machines for demining, and Viktor Lenac from Rijeka, which was engaged in the overhaul of vessels belonging to the US 6th Fleet.

Last year was significantly better than pre-pandemic 2019, which isn't something many can boast of, and which was otherwise one of the worst for the military industry, in which exports stood at 493 million kuna. The record year for Croatian military exports was 2016 with almost 1.7 billion kuna in exports, twice as much as was recorded last year.

If the government concludes a contract to procure the French Rafale, finally putting an end to the very tiresome story surrounding fighter jet procurement, the first of those planes would start arriving in Croatia during 2024, when, depending on the agreed terms, imports of the military sector are likely to jump by 100 million euros per year.

However, if the military connection between Croatia and France, which is the most militarily powerful member of the EU following the departure of Great Britain, follows, there are justified expectations that additional space will need to be found for the Croatian military industry.

Since Croatian producers, as well as institutes and faculties, are interested in the establishment of the European Defense Fund, which will initially boast of figures of between 5 and 7 billion euros in the coming years, it is more than clear why more and more Croatian producers want to dip their toes into the lucrative niche of military production.

For more, follow our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Croatian Army Company Sent to KFOR

May 17, 2021 - The Croatian army's Motorised Company was seen off at a barracks in Gospić on Monday, leaving for the NATO-led Operation KFOR in Kosovo as part of the 35th Croatian contingent there, the Defence Ministry said.

The Croatian company will be deployed in Kosovo for six months. It has 99 members, including nine women, and will operate as part of a multinational battalion, led by Italy, together with Austria, Italy, and Slovenia.

Croatia contributing to stability and peace in S-E Europe

Minister Mario Banožić said he was proud that a declared infantry company was being sent to KFOR for the first time, adding that Croatia, as a credible NATO member, directly contributed to stability and peace in Southeast Europe.

"Since we are talking about our immediate environment, our responsibility is bigger and requires of us active engagement and inclusion in the processes underway there. We all know well that there has been a change in the security paradigm and security perception in the whole world, and we are aware that security is not defended only on Croatia's borders but also there where a threat arises."

Banožić said he was confident that with their knowledge and capabilities, the Croatian troops would contribute greatly to creating a stable and safe environment.

"Investing in knowledge and security is investing in stability, prosperity, and the well-being of every member and our country. NATO's Operation KFOR is an ideal opportunity to strengthen security by participating in the international environment and working with the best. We can become faster, better, and readier for responding to all threats put before us."

The military Chief-Of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, told the Croatian troops leaving for Kosovo that the Croatian army's engagement in KFOR showed that it was willing to share the burden and responsibility, contributing to the building of a safer and more stable world, motivated by the experience gained in the 1991-95 Homeland War.

"Our national security neither begins nor ends on the state border but is susceptible to geographically distant processes. That's one reason for the stronger involvement in Operation KFOR, whereby we wish to help build a safer world for all those living in Kosovo, the region, and, indirectly, for us. Our soldiers will perform a wide spectrum of tasks; the company is excellently trained and ready to take its role in KFOR," said Hranj.

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

Friday, 14 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović For Seeing to Croatian Interests When Sending Troops To international Missions

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanović said on Friday that Croatian interests would always be taken into account when sending Croatian troops into international missions.

The Croatian army is the modern army of a democratic state, a state of equal citizens, which participates in international missions, Milanović said in Petrinja at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the 2nd Guard Brigade Gromovi.

"You too will participate in international missions. In deciding where, when and in what composition we will go, we will take account of first and foremost protecting Croatian interests," he said.

Croatian troops will go into those international missions where they can learn, work on themselves and build their careers, he added, "where we won't meddle too much in others' conflicts and others' quarrels."

To the soldiers sworn in at Petrinja today, Milanović said that as soldiers and professionals they should work on their physical fitness, knowledge and education every day.

"We see how wars are waged today, how the world is stirring and what changes are taking place in front of us. This is not an ordinary time and we must always be adapted to this time, taking account of knowing clearly what our interests are, how far we can go, what we can't pass over and how much we can set aside for that."

In that sense, Milanović said, the Croatian army must be properly equipped.

Defence Minister Mario Banožić said 203 Gromovi members were killed in the Homeland War's operations Storm, Flash, Maslenica, Una and others, while five were unaccounted for and 1,200 were wounded.

Despite that, nothing could stop their courage and heart, he added, announcing the modernisation and development of the military.

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

Friday, 14 May 2021

President Zoran Milanović Says is Involved in Fighter Jet Selection Via Main Staff Chief

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanović said on Friday he was involved in the selection of fighter jets via the Main Staff chief, who answers to him, and via the Air Force commander.

"The prime minister was untruthful again. Not a day goes by without that man telling a lie. He says I could have but did not get involved (...) But I did, via the chief of the Main Staff, who answers to me, via the Croatian Air Force commander," Milanović told reporters in Petrinja.

"Do I have to say all the time that the prime minister is a liar? That's lying. Or the man knows nothing about the state nor about the commission whose appointment he signed," he said, adding that on that commission was the Main Staff chief, "who answers first and foremost to me. So, I have all the inside information."

Asked if a decision which fighter jets to purchase would be made by the end of the month, as announced by the defence minister, Milanović said, "I don't believe anything."

That's irresponsible, amateurish, dilettante behaviour, he added.

Asked to comment on Milanović's statement that the government was taking too long to decide on the best multi-purpose fighter jets, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday that Milanović had refused to appoint his representative on the competent commission and sought to distance himself from the process. "What does he care then? Why the rush? We will decide at our own convenience."

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

Friday, 14 May 2021

Defence Minister Mario Banožić Expects Decision on Fighter Jets This Month

ZAGREB, 14 May, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Friday he expected a decision on the best offer of multipurpose fighter jets to be made this month.

We were in a time of earthquakes and the pandemic, and perhaps the communication with the bidding countries did not take place when one wanted, he told the press in Petrinja.

"It all resulted in us having a superior time ahead of us when a decision will be made to the honour and glory of the Croatian army and the Croatian Air Force."

Asked when the decision would be made and what the deadlines were, Banožić said he expected it this month. He also commented on President Zoran Milanović's question as to when the government would finally decide.

He said "the president was invited to participate in the body which created the basis for making a decision" and that he could have "participated in that process."

Banožić said he tried to remain civil in his communication with the president. "First and foremost because I'm the minister of a department which is truly an honour for me, a person who should avoid conflict yet try to keep the situation under control regardless of the circumstances."

He said the military commander-in-chief should have a positive attitude and support the military and the Defence Ministry in making decisions on modernisation and equipment.

I understand what the president's fundamental constitutional duties are. I respect his role as such. I can't accept his attempts to have his way of communicating and political views reflected on the Croatian army, Banožić said.

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

Friday, 7 May 2021

DEFENDER-Europe-21: Zadar Doing Its Part in Large NATO Exercise

May 7, 2021 - As part of NATO, Croatia participates in a large military exercise called DEFENDER-Europe-21, and UK and US navy ships arrived in Zadar with valuable equipment to be distributed among training areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Large-scale, multinational, and army-lead, DEFENDER-Europe is a joint exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO, and partner militaries. This year's edition DEFENDER-Europe-21, as reported by U.S. Army Europe and Africa website, focuses on „Building operational readiness and interoperability with a greater number of NATO allies and partners over a wider area of operations is defensive in nature and focused on responding to the crisis if necessary“, and also shows that „the U.S. commitment to NATO is ironclad.“

The exercise also includes strict COVID prevention and mitigation measures, such as pre-deployment COVID testing and quarantining and the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy show significant involvement and will utilize key ground and maritime routes bridging Europe, Asia, and Africa – continues the website.

„Exercises new high-end capabilities such the new U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades, air, and missile defense assets and the recently reactivated V Corps and demonstrates our ability to serve as a strategic security partner in the western Balkans and the Black Sea regions while sustaining our abilities in northern Europe, the Caucasus, Ukraine, and Africa“, adds the exercise goals the official U.S. Army website.

Apart from the U.S., Approximately 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in 12 countries, and as a NATO member, Croatia has not been left out of the drill.

U.S._Naval_Ship_Yuma_arrives_in_Zadar_Croatia_Sgt._Alexandra_Shea.jpg

U.S. Naval Ship Yuma arrives in Zadar, Croatia © Sgt. Alexandra Shea

As part of the exercise, U.S. Naval Ship Yuma and U.K. Vessel Hurst Point off-loaded more than 300 pieces of military equipment in Zadar, Croatia’s Gazenica port, after ferrying it from Durres in Albania. The delivery started on Tuesday, May 4, and it was concluded on Friday. The journey of the equipment started back on March 24 at the Port of Jacksonville in Florida. The local U.S. National Guard units were shipping the equipment for three days onto USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) after which, the ship stopped by Portsmouth in Virginia for the final pieces of equipment before heading towards Durres in Albania. In Durres, the smaller vessels took the equipment and finally loaded it to Yuma, and Hurst Point, which brought it to the gem of Northern Dalmatia, Zadar.

„This process is called Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, a method used to ensure swift delivery of supplies and equipment in a variety of port situations“, explained the press release.

U.S._equipment_leaves_for_training_area-c-Sgt._Joshua_Oh.jpgU.S. equipment leaves for training area © Sgt. Joshua Oh 

While many would probably stop at Zadar and chill for a lovely holiday, the equipment, however, will continue its journey. Part of the equipment will remain in Croatia, but it will be transferred to Slunj, home of the Main Training Area, and the rest goes to training areas scattered in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In BiH, the drills and maneuvers for which the equipment will be used are under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21” which will culminate in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” at the end of May. Not just as a test of possibility in the „God-forbid-we-are-attacked“ scenario, Croatian Rampart 1991-2021“ also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatia Armed Forces.

The Main Training Area in Slunj, Croatia and training areas throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina to be used in drills and maneuvers alongside members of the Croatian Armed Forces, under the umbrella of the linked exercise named "Immediate Response 21.” The exercise culminates in a joint, multinational live-fire demonstration called “Croatian Rampart 1991-2021” - which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Croatian Armed Forces at the end of May.

major.jpg

British Major Dan Cornwell talking to Croatian press, screenshot / Defense Flash News

British Major Dan Cornwell told the Croatian press that the idea of being in Zadar is that Croatian, U.K., and U.S. forces operate together in loading U.S. equipment and personnel.

„We've done this before, on exercise last year in Germany, and I can say, it's a lot better down here in the south, it's absolutely amazing to be here in Croatia to do this alongside Croatian Armed Forces where we can better understand how we operate differently, how we operate similarly and equally building up our interoperability and our ability to operate better in the future“, said Maj. Cornwell, indicating that perhaps he can find Zadar, like many others, as a great holiday destination and not just the line of duty.

Learn more about Zadar on our TC page.

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

Friday, 30 April 2021

Defence Minister Mario Banožić: "Croatian Army is Not Training Ground For Political Rivalry"

ZAGREB, 30 April, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić said on Friday that the Croatian Army is not a training ground for political rivalry, adding that he will never allow his actions to put the army in a position to be used for political recriminations.

"The key is a Croatian Army that needs to develop. It isn't a training ground for political rivalry. I will never do anything, regardless of whoever wants to put me in that position, to make the Croatian Army a topic for political recriminations. The Army does credit to us all, particularly now when we are marking the 30th anniversary of the Armed Forces and each week we have at least one event," Banožić told reporters after meeting with Kosovo's defence minister.

He recalled that according to his decision based on the Defence Act, the Croatian Army will attend the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of Operation Flash in Okučani. He added that no one had ever made a decision on where the Chief of Staff and other commanders would be, and that will not be the case now.

There's no such thing as the President's Army, there's only the Croatian Army

"This refers to people who participated in the Homeland War, people who are deeply aware of the emergence of the Croatian Army and the way it was formed. They are also aware of the fact that any commemoration, including the commemoration of Operation Flash, makes new generations proud as they need to learn how to behave and love their country," the minister said, underscoring that he expects everyone to behave in that spirit.

"That means that we do not have the President's Army, we only have the Croatian Army which is defined by the Defence Act," said Banožić. He recalled that the Defence Act was adopted in 2013 under the then prime minister Zoran Milanović and said that now as president Milanović certainly knows what changes were made to the act in comparison to the period before that.

"Vital changes occurred then. The Minister of Defence participates in creating the budget and in decisions on how the budget will be spent and reports to the government and parliament," said Banožić. He said he respects the authority of the President of the Republic as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and that they are clearly defined by the Constitution.

Banožić was referring to President Zoran Milanović's statement on Thursday that his delegation at the commemoration in Okučani would include military commanders, while "I don't know who will be with Plenković, but they won't be." 

"I think that is something that is quite damaging for the Croatian Army, to politicise it in that way. The Defence Act serves as the basis for further equipping, modernisation and development of the army. Topics like we have had until now concerning peace missions and operations, cooperation with other countries and support to civil institutions. While I am minister we will adhere to that and we will certainly not put any commander in any uncomfortable situation regarding where and with whom he will be," said Banožić.

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

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

President Zoran Milanović: Croatian Army a Pillar of Civil Democracy

ZAGREB, 28 April, 2021 -  President Zoran Milanović said on Wednesday that the Croatian Army was one of the pillars of a civil, democratic state, while attending, in his capacity as the supreme commander, the official oath ceremony of the armed forces' 3rd mechanised battalion.

The ceremony was held in the Knin army barracks and was attended by also Defence Minister Mario Banožić, Chief-of-Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj and commander of the land forces Lieutenant-General Boris Šerić, the President's office said in press release.

Addressing those present Milanović said that the army is primarily for defending the Croatian homeland, on land and sea.

The Croatian Army, which means you, will build its future on international institutions. The circumstances are such that there will not be any more wars as there were thirty years ago. Today are different times, different circumstances...strive for the best for yourself, your families, your units, your homeland - Croatia," said Milanović.

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

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