Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Croatian Armed Forces Mark Anniversary

ZAGREB, May 29, 2019 - Addressing a special ceremony held in Zagreb on Tuesday on the occasion of Croatian Armed Forces' Day, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who is the supreme commander, underscored that opinion polls showed that "the Croatian people has the highest confidence in the Croatian army among all state institutions".

In the last three years, we have achieved a lot. By increasing the defence budget, we have created requirements for an increased investment in the Croatian army and thus in the future of the Croatian state, she said.

She spoke about the importance of continuing to upgrade the armed forces not as a means of force but as the guarantor of peace and prosperity of Croatia.

"We are restoring the Croatian Army to its splendour and the dignity of each member of the army by improving the conditions of their work and life," Grabar-Kitarović said.

Croatian Armed Forces' day is held on 28 May in memory of the very first line-up of the Croatian National Guard (ZNG) and special units of the Croatian Interior Ministry at the stadium in Zagreb's Kranjčevićeva Street on 28 May 1991.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that over the past 28 years, the Croatian Armed Forces "have shown their capability of transformation and permanent adjustment and flexibility so as to be ready to carry out their constitutional tasks and protect national interests".

He said that nowadays the armed forces are able to respond to possible security threats and challenges from the complex, immediate and global environment.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević described the Croatian army as "a powerful and respectable arm and the guarantor of peace and security". "We are making our victorious army stronger and stronger and we are achieving new top-notch capabilities".

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

Monday, 27 May 2019

Senior Officials Attend Changing of the Honour Guard Ceremony

ZAGREB, May 27, 2019 - Senior state officials and delegations of the Defence Ministry and the Croatian Army attended on Sunday, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the establishment of the Croatian Armed Forces, Croatian Army Day and Land Forces Day, a changing of the Honour Guard ceremony and a display of the guards' acrobatic feats.

"I am glad the incumbent government restored the changing of the Honour Guard ceremony, which is in the service of the identity of the Croatian state, Homeland War values, popularisation of the military profession and is a tourist attraction," Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said after the ceremony.

The Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, General Mirko Šundov, who also attended the ceremony, said that the army was maintaining its current capabilities and investing in its modernisation and equipment.

"We will continue developing capabilities of the Land Forces and their mobility, and will continue working so that the Navy gets a new vessel and the Air Force combat aircraft as soon as possible," said Šundov.

The commander of the Land Forces, Brigadier General Siniša Jurković, said that the army had returned to Vukovar, Varaždin, Pula and Sinj, and that this year it would also return to Ploče.

"The army has returned to those cities to the mutual satisfaction of soldiers and citizens, and the advantages are visible, soldiers' motivation is greater because they perform their tasks better being close to their families," said Jurković.

Participating in the ceremony of the Honour Guard changing were three officers in black-and-white historical uniforms and 26 soldiers and non-commissioned officers in red-and-black historical uniforms.

The Honour Guard Battalion was established in 1990 and existed until 2000.

It performs ceremonial tasks for top-level state and military officials, as well as tasks related to the protection and security of the Commander-in-Chief, President of the Republic of Croatia.

Changing of the guard ceremonies will be held outside the government headquarters in St. Mark's Square in the period from May 26 to October 8 on Saturdays and holidays, except in cases of heavy rainfall.

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

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Rudolf Perešin MiG-21 Put on Display Outside Defence Ministry

ZAGREB, May 12, 2019 - A ceremony was held outside the Defence Ministry building in Zagreb on Sunday to formally mark the return of a MiG-21 fighter jet with which Croatian pilot Rudolf Perešin defected from the Yugoslav Air Force in October 1991.

Perešin flew the plane from a Yugoslav Air Force base near the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihać to Klagenfurt, Austria, which was seen as an act of moral victory at the start of Serbian military aggression against Croatia in 1991. The plane was returned to Zagreb earlier this month and will remain on display outside the Defence Ministry until the end of May, after which it will be relocated to the Croatian Air Force base at Pleso.

Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the plane was one of the main symbols of the 1991-1995 Homeland War, adding that its return after 28 years of quiet diplomacy and government efforts was a mark of honour to all Croatian veterans and their families.

"The story of Rudolf Perešin and this plane is a story of freedom. It must remain with us forever. The message Rudolf Perešin sent in October 1991 to Croatian defenders, the entire Croatian nation and the entire world, is a message of freedom, courage, strength, boldness and patriotism. That message is again with us here today," the prime minister said.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said: "This plane is a living piece of history and a symbol of the start of the Croatian Army and the Croatian Air Force, a symbol of victory, resistance against aggression and the fight of the Croatian nation for its independence. Its return is of an immeasurable value to our country."

Rudolf Perešin decided to leave the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) on 25 October 1991, undertaking a risky flight from Bihac to Klagenfurt. He was later quoted by media as saying: "I am Croatian, I cannot and won't shoot at Croatians."

Perešin was killed on 2 May 1995 during Operation Flash in the Western Slavonia region when his MiG was shot down by Serb anti-aircraft artillery. His remains were found only two and a half years later, and he was given a formal burial at Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetery in 1997.

More news about the Homeland War can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Adriatic Sea Defence & Aerospace Conference Starts in Split

ZAGREB, April 10, 2019 - The Adriatic Sea Defence & Aerospace Conference, or ASDA 2019, opened in the Spaladium Arena in the southern coastal city of Split on Wednesday, featuring 185 exhibitors from 26 countries which will present their defence industry products over the next three days.

Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said that the fifth edition of the exhibition was the largest yet in terms of the number of exhibitors, participating countries and delegations.

"ASDA has established itself as a first-rate business event - a meeting place with new products and technologies," Krstičević said in his opening remarks, adding that the exhibition was an opportunity to develop and promote cooperation with partner countries and companies.

He said that Croatia has been a NATO member for ten years and that the membership has considerably increased the security of citizens.

"However, the world is changing fast, new centres of military and political power are developing which, while aggressively promoting their own interests, could affect us and our way of life. That's why we must not let down our guard but must engage our full potential, unleash innovations and develop new solutions to stay ahead of those who are developing potential to threaten us," Krstičević said.

He said that ASDA was an excellent opportunity for the further international promotion of Croatian arms and military equipment manufacturers.

The exhibition is taking place under the patronage of the government, and has been organised by the US company TNT Productions Inc., which specialises in organising such shows. Its CEO Justin Webb said in his address that this year's ASDA was the biggest yet, attracting delegations from 34 countries of Southeastern Europe, Western Europe, Eurasia, North Africa, the Middle East and the United States. He thanked the Croatian government and local authorities for helping organise the event.

After the opening ceremony, Krstičević, Webb and US Ambassador Robert Kohorst signed a protocol under which ASDA would continue to be held in Split in the future.

More defence news can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Originally Offered F-16 Fighter Jets or Nothing, Says Prime Minister

ZAGREB, December 11, 2018 - Commenting on the latest developments regarding the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from Israel, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that "the government does not consider the situation to be in any way burdensome for Croatia."

"Last year we sent special delegations to both Israel and the United States and before the government made its decision, there had been no indications of any problem. The burden of obtaining consent from the United States for the delivery of the planes was taken on by the Israeli side. Croatia did everything in good faith, in line with the rules and tender procedure. At this moment, this is a matter of relations between Israel and the United States," Plenković said.

"We will either buy the planes that were originally offered or the tender will be declared null and void, there is no dilemma about it and any other solution .... is out of the question," Plenković said.

Asked if this was a stain for Croatia as a small country depending on the will of big powers, Plenković said that such an attitude "trivialises this topic."

"I will not allow that to happen. As far as the team who was working on this is concerned, things were done professionally and at the moment the decision was made, there were no indications of any problem," Plenković said.

Israel committed itself in writing that it would obtain the US government's approval for the delivery of fighter jets to Croatia and that is exclusively Israel's responsibility, the Croatian Defence Ministry said last Friday and added that if any official notice were to arrive, the public would be informed.

Earlier that day the US Embassy in Zagreb said that it was cooperating with Croatia and Israel on finding an acceptable solution that would enable the confirmation of the agreement on the purchase of Israeli F-16 fighter jets.

The US Embassy said that it had been cooperating with Israel for more than a year regarding the details of the proposed agreement on the purchase of the jets.

The Israeli media have reported that Washington is angry because it believes that by upgrading the electronic systems in the US-made aircraft, Israel has unfairly profited from their sale to Croatia.

The Croatian government in March decided to buy 12, about 30-year-old F-16 Barak fighter jets from Israel. The planes will cost Croatia 2.9 billion kuna over a period of ten years.

More news on Croatia’s military can be found in our Politics section.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Minister Still Hopeful About Fighter Jet Purchase

ZAGREB, December 9, 2018 - Defence Minister Damir Krstičević has said that Croatia will not pay any additional costs for the purchase of 12 F-16 fighter jets from Israel after the U.S. insistence that Israel must comply with the technical criteria Washington set in order to okay Croatia’s fighter jet purchase from Israel.

The planes, which are the subject matter of the procurement deal and which were produced by the U.S. Lockheed Martin, have subsequently got sophisticated electronic systems which Israel has added to them, and Washington now insists that they should be reversed to the previous form.

Israeli media have reported that US Secretary of Defence James Mattis is not allowing Israel to sell 12 F-16 fighter jets to Croatia. The US administration must give its consent to the country to which it has sold its planes if that country wants to sell them to a third country.

Asked by the press on Saturday whether Israel or Croatia would cover the costs of those planned technical changes, Minister Krstičević said that there were no additional costs for his country. "The tender is clear. The tender has been transparent and in line with laws. We know what we have asked for. The bids were opened publicly. The price is known. As far as Croatian is concerned, there are no additional costs," Krstičević said after attending a gathering of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) youth association's meeting.

Asked whether he would resign in the event that this deal failed, the minister said that he would not answer hypothetical questions.

He went on to say that Croatia was given the documentation showing that the U.S. Administration allowed Israel to offer its F-16 planes to Croatia.

On Friday, when the news broke out about the complications in the delivery of the fighter jets over the U.S. requirements set to Israel, Krstičević recalled that the U.S. government had given Israel permission to offer the Israeli F-16 jets to Croatia. "We have a document to that effect. In its bid, Israel undertook to deliver to Croatia aircraft that is compatible with NATO and obliged itself to ensure that the extension of the planes' service life complies with the original manufacturer's criteria. Delivery, too, is the responsibility of the State of Israel. Based on those documents and the tender, we made the decision on the purchase of the multipurpose fighter jets and the process was legal and transparent," Krstičević said yesterday.

In late March, the Croatian government unanimously adopted a decision to buy 12 F-16 C/D Barak jets that were about 30 years old. Croatia is supposed to pay 2.9 billion kuna for the planes over a period of ten years.

More news on the Croatian military can be found in our dedicated section.

Friday, 30 November 2018

Defence Minister Visits Croatian UNFIL Contingent in Lebanon

ZAGREB, November 30, 2018 - Croatia's Defence Minister Damir Krstičević, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Mirko Šundov, and Army Commander General Siniša Jurković, paid a visit to the Croatian UNFIL contingent in Lebanon, which is part of the UN-led peace mission in Lebanon, on 28-29 November, the Defence Ministry said in a press release on Thursday.

The 51-strong second Croatian contingent is deployed within the Italian Garibaldi Brigade.

The Croatian delegation held talks with the UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Colo, and the Commander of the Sector Headquarters in Shamaa, General Diodato Abagnara.

Del Colo commended on the engagement and performance of the Croatian contingent and expressed satisfaction with Croatia's contribution to peace-building efforts.

Minister Krstičević was quoted as saying that he was proud of the Croatian troops in Lebanon. Our participation in UNIFIL makes the Croatian military's interoperability stronger and facilitates efforts to upgrade its capabilities, he said.

Our army engineers are engaged in reconstructing UN camps, gravel roads and paths, and our personnel also provide security on the bases and work for the benefit of the local population, General Jurković said. He praised the Croatian troops for performing their tasks professionally and honourably.

UNIFIL has around 10,500 peacekeepers coming from 41 countries.

According to Security Council resolutions 425 and 426 of 1978, UNIFIL was established to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and assist the Lebanese government in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.

According to Security Council Resolution 1701 of 2006, UNIFIL is authorised to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.

For more on Croatia’s Defence Ministry, click here.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Croatian Navy to Purchase Patrol Vessels, Rockets and Radars?

The Croatian military, in its various segments, has been making some rather large purchases of late, and it seems that there's no plan to stop at just aircraft as the Croatian Navy plans some major purchases.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 20th of November, 2018, Croatian naval priorities have been quickly swung to the acquisition of new or modernised radar systems with support of unmanned systems (UAVs) and the desire for five to even ten patrol vessels.

For the period between 2024 to 2026, the procurement of an offshore patrol boat of a modular design has been planned, which would also boast a helicopter landing platform. This would enable the Croatian Navy (HRM) to step out into the Mediterranean as well, given the fact that such vessels can spend weeks, even months out of their home port, according to a report from Večernji list.

The Croatian Navy also intends to acquire a few (two to three) new or modernised ships for underwater surveillance (so-called mine-hunters), and the absolute priority is to procure a new anti-ship (missile) system, the planned successor to the current Swedish RBS-15, whose remaining rockets will be out of function in the next five to seven years.

In its plan, the Croatian Navy intends to procure and own up to ten such patrol ships over the next ten years, with the remark that after the construction of five new ones, the purchase five more used ones can follow. The price stands at about ten million euros per copy, and they will gradually replace the OB class "Mirna", which were built back in the early 1980's.

It has been deemed that the Croatian Navy should be equipped with a minimum of two large patrol vessels, of up to 1,500 tons in weight. These ships should have multiple uses, ranging from war uses, such as anti-aircraft uses, as well as to be able to perform tasks from the Coast Guard's domain. The multipurpose ships will also have platforms for the installation of new anti-ship rocket systems, and a load displacement of about 1,500 tons would also enable the accommodation of a scout helicopter which would significantly increase the ship's monitoring capabilities at sea.

Considering that the fact that the Adriatic sea is a vitally important naval corridor to Western Europe, with main ports in the north, underwater surveillance for the Republic of Croatia is just as important as the surveillance of the airspace and the ability to react promptly in terms of so-called ''air-policing."

Otherwise, over the past ten years, the Croatian Navy has unfortunately failed to realise any major modernisation project that was put into any longterm plan.

Make sure to stay up to date with our news page for more information like this.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Croatia Supports Kosovo on Its Journey to NATO

ZAGREB, November 7, 2018 - Croatia is prepared to share its knowledge and assist Kosovo on its Euro-Atlantic journey, just as it has assisted Montenegro and just as it is helping Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said after his meeting with the visiting Minister of the Kosovo Security Force, Rrustem Berisha.

"The Croatian Army is an example of professional and supreme preparedness and we are ready to share our knowledge with our partner Kosovo and assist it on its Euro-Atlantic journey, the same way we have assisted Montenegro and the way we are helping Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina," Krstičević said.

Berisha said Croatia was a friendly country and a strategic partner, adding that Kosovo could learn a lot from Croatia. "With this meeting, we want to boost cooperation which is in the interest of both of our countries, but also in the interest of peace and stability of the entire region," Berisha said.

The talks also focused on the process of transforming the Kosovo Security force. Berisha briefed Krstičević about three draft laws, stressing that they were "in accordance with the Constitution and the new Kosovo Security Force mandate and will be in the interest of all citizens."

During his stay in Zagreb, Berisha also visited the company for the production of military equipment – HS-Produkt – which, according to Krstičević, was an opportunity for equipping and modernising the Security Force, but also an opportunity for the Croatian military industry.

The talks also focused on good cooperation in the education sector. Krstičević said that over the law five years, a total of 40 Security Force members have been trained at a Croatian military academy.

For more on Croatia’s relations with Kosovo, click here.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Živi Zid against Deployment of Croatian Troops Abroad

ZAGREB, October 27, 2018 - Sending Croatian troops on nine international missions led by the UN, NATO and EU received support in parliament on Friday from the ruling majority and the opposition with the exception of the Živi Zid party, which supports the participation of Croatian troops only in UN missions.

Lawmakers debated the participation of Croatian troops in the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and the EU-led EUNAVFOR Med Sophia mission. Also discussed was Croatian troops' involvement in NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence mission in Poland, in the KFOR mission in Kosovo, the NATO mission in Iraq, the EU NAVFOR Somalia Atalanta peace mission, and UN sponsored peace missions.

A maximum of 366 Croatian troops will be involved in these missions in 2019 and the Defence Ministry has allocated 124 million kuna for this purpose, State Secretary Tomislav Ivić said.

MP Branimir Bunjac (Živi Zid) objected to Croatia sending its soldiers around the globe while on the other hand it is not providing for its citizens. "Aside from supporting the puppet government in Afghanistan that sells drugs, what use do we have from sending our soldiers to the Russian border? What does Croatia's army have to do in Iraq?" Bunjac asked and added that the Živi Zid supports only those missions sponsored by the United Nations.

"It is dangerous to claim that Croatia will be better off and safer if it is left without allies," MP Davor Ivo Stier (HDZ) told Živi Zid MPs. "At the time of the Great Serbia aggression, we had to arm ourselves and were on our own and without allies," Stier said and underscored that Croatia must never again allow itself to be without allies. "That is why we need defence allies, so that no-one ever again considers attacking Croatia, that's the advantage of NATO membership," Stier said.

MP Anđelko Stričak (HDZ) underscored that the said missions were designed to help establish peace and reduce instability and should therefore be supported.

SDP MP Franko Vidović too voiced his support for deploying Croatian troops to serve in peace missions abroad.

For more on Živi Zid and Croatian politics, follow the TCN Politics page.

Page 7 of 15