Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Croatian Defence Industry Presented in European Parliament

ZAGREB, 29 June 2022 - Protective gear and other products of the Croatian defence industry were presented in the European Parliament on Wednesday as part of a conference on strengthening Europe's security and defence, organised by Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler.

Security and defence are not a choice today but fundamental issues which come first, he said, per a press release from his office.

Croatia's defence industry is one of its strongest and most successful exports and deserves, alongside other European colleagues, even stronger EU support so that Europe stays the safest continent, Ressler added.

Among those attending the conference was former Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who said the situation caused by the Russian aggression on Ukraine called for unity and strengthening the common defence.

She recalled that 90% of EU citizens live in NATO countries and called for deeper cooperation between the EU and NATO.

Also present at the conference were Croatian Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Nataša Tramišak, Ukrainian MP Maria Mezentseva, and representatives of Croatian and European military companies and the European Commission's Directorate-General for the Defence Industry.

For more, check out our politics section.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

EP Pushes for Qualified Majority Voting in Certain Foreign Policy Areas

ZAGREB, 8 June 2022 - The decision making by a qualified majority vote, instead of the unanimous endorsement, should be introduced in some segments of the European Union's foreign affairs, a majority of European Parliament members agreed on Tuesday when they also called for more invesments in Ukraine's defence.

A majority of MEPs expressed support to the plans to introduce qualified majority voting for certain foreign policy areas, as already provided for in the Treaties in order to increase the effectiveness of EU foreign policy.

The rule of unanimous consent should be abandoned. This is what citizens who participated in the Conference on the Future of Europe expect, said French MEP Nathalie Loiseau, a rapporteur for  European Parliament recommendation to the Council and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Another rapporteur David McAllister said that it was also proposed that weapons and necessary material should be sent to Ukraine in accordance with the needs expressed by Ukraine's authorities.

Croatian MEP Tonino Picula said that the common security policy mist no longer be the weakest spot in our integration and underscored that by defending itself Ukraine also defends Europe.

Croatian MEP Željana Zovko, said that the EU needed "preventive diplomacy" as a tool to resolve issues and stop crises.

 "What we are lacking is preventive diplomacy," she said.

Today, we have discussed the forthcoming elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina."Twenty years after the conclusion of the Dayton peace agreement, we still have a a half-sovereign country in this case we missed that preventive diplomacy," she said.

Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić said that the EU turned into the 51st member of the USA when it comes to foreign ans security affairs.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated politics section.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

President Milanović Attends Croatia-US military Exercise "Shield 22"

ZAGREB, 9 April 2022 - Croatia's President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanović on Saturday attended the military exercise "Shield 22", taking place on the "Croatian Army 119th Brigade" training ground at Cape Kamenjak in Premantura near Pula, the Office of the President said in a statement.

Participating in the combat shooting exercise were members of Croatian and US armed forces.

The purpose of the exercise was the demonstrate the capabilities of air defence units in detecting, tracking and shooting down targets in airspace.

The exercise is taking place from 4 to 13 April. It has been held regularly for 27 years and this year US army members joined in for the first time.

The exercise was also attended by Croatian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Admiral Robert Hranj, the Croatian Army Commander, General Boris Šerić, and other military officials, President Milanović's advisor on defence and national security, Dragan Lozančić, as well as representatives of the US army.

For more, check out our politics section.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Croatia Met NATO Defence Budget Target In 2021

ZAGREB, 31 March 2022 - According to NATO estimates, Croatia last year met the target the allies set for investing at least 2% of GDP in defence and significantly surpassed the target of earmarking at least 20% of the defence budget for equipment.

Last year's purchase of fighter jets significantly increased Croatia's defence budget.

According to a report presented by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday, NATO estimates that last year Croatia increased its defence budget to 2.16% of GDP from 1.71% in 2020 and that 30.6% of its defence outlays were earmarked for equipment.

NATO member states committed in 2014 to increase their defence budgets to at least 2% of GDP by 2024 and to set aside at least 20% of the defence outlays for military equipment.

Greece earmarked the most for the defence last year, 3.59% of GDP, followed by the United States (3.57%) Poland (2.34%), the UK (2.25%) and Croatia, Estonia and Latvia (2.16% each).

The allies which earmarked the least for defence were Slovenia (1.22%), Belgium (1.07%), Spain (1.03%) and Luxembourg (0.54%).

Greece also set aside the most for military equipment, investing 38.8% of its military budget, followed by Luxembourg (38.2%), Hungary (37.2%), Poland (33%), Turkey (30.7%), Croatia (30.6%), and the US (29.4%).

The allies which set aside the least for military equipment in their defence budgets were Albania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Canada, Portugal and Germany, ranging from 14.9 to 18.6%.

2/3 of Croats for NATO

Last year NATO commissioned a public opinion poll on its perception which shows that 67% of Croats were for membership in NATO, 13% were against, while the rest did not know.

NATO has the highest support in Poland (84%), Albania and Lithuania (82% each), and Romania and Portugal (79% each), while support is lowest in Slovakia (46%), Montenegro and France (50% each).

7 in 10 Croats believe NATO membership reduces the likelihood of a third country's attack

Sixty-nine per cent of Croats believe that membership reduces the likelihood of a third country's attack.

This percentage is highest in Lithuania (76%) and lowest in the US (42%).

Politics: For more, check out our politics section.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Croatia Remains One of Safest States, Milanović Says

ZAGREB, 15 March 2022 - Croatia remains one of the safest states with the safest cities because "that's a tradition", President and Armed Forces Commander in Chief Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday, adding that Croatia had a quite high level of public security throughout history.

"In that system (communism) and in this system we have always been a country where you could let a child walk out at ten at night. It's been known to happen that some gangs in Split go wild and start shooting with Kalashnikovs, then nothing happens for 100 years," Milanović said at Zemunik Air Base.

He reiterated that the odds of a drone crashing in Zagreb again as it did last week were small, adding that he believed the Hungarians had learnt something from the incident and that it was necessary to strengthen the air defence.

As for the French Rafale fighter jets flying over Zagreb this afternoon, the president said, "they are welcome if they can do that constantly, because it's difficult to control the sky 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At the moment, probably nobody is doing that, not even Israel."

He called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to "restrain his associates so that they don't babble about the results of the investigation" into the drone crash until it was over.

"Once again I'm calling on, first and foremost the prime minister, who more or less watches what he says, but some of his associates act like silly children," Milanović said.

The investigation is being done by the General Staff's intelligence regiment, he said, adding that everything they knew he did, too, in real time, but that he did not talk about it until definitive data and conclusions were available.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

British Defence Secretary Says London and Zagreb United in Support to Ukraine

ZAGREB, 1 Feb 2022 - Croatia and the United Kingdom stand side by side in supporting the right of sovereign states to choose their destiny, the visiting Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, said in Zagreb on Tuesday.

During his official visit to Zagreb, the U.K Defence Secretary and his host, Croatian Defence Minister Mario Banožić, discussed the security situation against a backdrop of growing tensions in Ukraine and the build-up of Russian troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Croatia and Great Britain stand side by side in defending the right of sovereign states to choose their destiny, said Wallace during a news conference in Zagreb on Tuesday while U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson travelled to Kyiv for an official visit to Ukraine.

What is chosen is of secondary importance in relation to the sacred right of choice a sovereign state is entitled to when it comes to its security, Wallace added.

This is a value and right worth advocating, said Wallace, admitting that in the last 18 months he only had a brief four-day holiday and spent those four days on the Croatian island of Korčula.

NATO, the EU and the U.K. are absolutely united in the support to Ukraine's sovereignty, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis must be solved through dialogue, he said.

Banožić said that Croatia could fully understand the current situation of Ukraine, and in this context he recalled Croatia's recent struggle for its independence and its territory.

The two officials signed an agreement on strategic partnership between their departments and the deal regulates the strengthening of the relations within NATO, in the Western Balkans and in coping with the hybrid threats as well as on cooperation in upgrading the interoperability of the two countries' armed forces.

The two ministers called for the continuation of dialogue in the Western Balkans and also pointed out the importance of reforms and the further integration of that region in the EU and NATO.

Wallace reiterated British support to efforts of those two alliances to help restore stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and address the problems bothering Croatia, Serbia and other partners.

Wallace was also received by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Parliamentary Parties Support Croatian-German Visiting Forces Agreement

ZAGREB, 15 Oct 2021 - Croatian parliamentary parties on Friday welcomed the adoption of the law ratifying the Croatian-German Visiting Forces Agreement, with some expressing concern about the article on criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures.

The agreement concerns temporary stays of members of the armed forces of Croatia and the armed forces of Germany in the territory of the other state.

"We are concerned about the article on criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures, which narrows the right to exercise criminal jurisdiction over members of the armed forces of the sending state," Vili Matula of the Left-Green Bloc said during the discussion. "It is not clear to us why the receiving state should waive the right of broader criminal jurisdiction," he added.

The Left-Green Bloc generally supports bilateral defence cooperation with countries that have highly developed democratic standards and do not violate human rights, and when defence cooperation also includes forms of development assistance.

"Germany is one such country and we have no objections to this kind of cooperation," Matula said.

Arsen Bauk of the Social Democratic Party said that these are common provisions in agreements like this. "Without them, I doubt that any country would send its troops to another country. We, too, certainly would not want our soldiers, when deployed in a foreign country, to be tried under the laws of that country, in particular if that country has capital punishment or cuts people's hands off."

Bauk said that this agreement should be supported, because "if any problems arise in its implementation, there is a clear mechanism to fix them."

Katarina Peović of the Workers Front said that the agreement could perhaps have been improved, but that the Croatian parliament did not have a chance to do that.  She resented the emphasis being put on the fact that the agreement was being signed with a major European country, which she said was "pure self-colonialism".

"I don't see this agreement as servile, but as one laying the legal groundwork for cooperation, which is already excellent," said Domagoj Hajduković of the Social Democrats group, adding that the two countries have close bilateral defence cooperation and participate together in NATO and EU missions.

"Everything that applies to the Croatian armed forces also applies to the German armed forces," noted Zdravko Jakup, state secretary at the Ministry of Defence. "We are always responsible for our forces wherever they may be and no one can absolve us from such responsibility," he said, expressing satisfaction that the ratification of the agreement is before Parliament.

The agreement governs the type, scope and duration of stays, the terms of entry, exit and stay, public security and order, public health, criminal jurisdiction and coercive measures,  telecommunications, environmental protection, the operation of vehicles of the sending state’s armed forces and the use of the receiving state’s airfields, settlement of claims, exercises, and settlement of disputes.

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Friday, 24 September 2021

Croatian and Slovenian Companies to Form Security and Defence Consortium

ZAGREB, 24 Sept 2021 - The Croatian DOK-ING company on Friday signed a letter of intent with the Croatian Orqa and Slovenian MIL Sistemika, Bijol and Defensphere OU companies on forming a consortium of complementary companies in the field of security and defence.

An agreement was signed at the same time between Croatian and Slovenian defence industry competitiveness clusters with the aim of supporting the two countries' defence industries in absorbing available EU funds.

The signing ceremony was held at the 8th International SOBRA Defence, Security, Protection and Rescue fair, which is being held from 23 to 25 September in Gornja Radgona, Slovenia, DOK-ING said on Friday.

The new Croatian-Slovenian consortium comprises members of the two countries' defence industry competitiveness clusters and opens opportunities for joint applications to the future European Defence Fund and use of EU funds for defence.

The consortium is a result of years of promoting the connecting of companies which, through the transfer of know-how and joint action, strengthen their capacity to develop high-tech products and position themselves on the international market.

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