Monday, 22 November 2021

Croatian Contingent Given Send-Off to Kosovo Without Presence of Media, Minister

ZAGREB, 22 Nov 2021 - The 36th 130-strong Croatian Army Contingent, including six servicewomen, is being given a formal send-off on Monday to join NATO's KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The media and the defence minister are not present at the ceremony.

The ceremony is taking place in the barracks of the 132nd Croatian Army Brigade in the eastern city of Našice without the presence of the media. It is being attended by President Zoran Milanović in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces, while Defence Minister Mario Banožić has canceled his attendance.

The Defence Ministry said that Banožić had canceled his attendance because neither he nor the contingent commander was scheduled to address the ceremony and because the media were not allowed into the barracks to cover the event.

"The Croatian Army is above all of us politicians. We are all transient, and it will exist as long as there is Croatia. I did not go to Našice for the send-off ceremony because I wanted no part in a show by the gentleman who unfortunately does not understand the first two sentences in this post. I wish the members of the 36th Croatian Contingent a safe journey and a successful mission. See you soon," the defence minister wrote on Facebook.

Although the Ministry's press office on Sunday invited the media to cover the event, the President's Office later said that the ceremony "does not envisage the participation of the media," adding that the public would be informed about the event in a press release which would include photographs.

Representatives of the media gathered outside the barracks gate on Monday morning but were denied entry.

The President's Office said that the sole purpose of the send-off ceremony was to show the commander in chief, military commanders, and the defence minister the contingent's readiness for the mission. "Such an important event for the military cannot and will not be used for anyone's daily political interests," it said.

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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.

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Friday, 7 May 2021

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić Says Croatia Trying To Humiliate Serbia With Participation in Kosovo Force

ZAGREB, 7 May, 2021- Serbia wants to have good and fair relations with all neighbouring countries but Croatia's actions and statements by its officials are not expressions of respect for Serbia but an attempt to humiliate it, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday.

In a comment on the statement by Croatia's foreign minister that Croatia would increase the number of its troops in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) because that was important for maintaining peace in the region and on disputes triggered by Serbian Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin's statements, Vučić said that Croatia could have refused to serve in KFOR but opted to do the contrary "in order to additionally humiliate Serbia."

Croatia's Foreign and European Affairs Ministry stated earlier in the day that Serbia's strong reaction to the planned deployment of a greater number of Croatian troops in Kosovo was "a hysterical speculation" intended to divert attention from the introduction of the Bunjevci dialect as an official language in the northern Serbian town of Subotica, which it considers an attempt to fragment the Croat community in Serbia.

The Serbian president today wondered "why anyone would need to participate in the KFOR mission or brag about it", alluding to Croatia's involvement in the international peace mission.

"They could have refused to take part in KFOR, but they intentionally made that decision to additionally humiliate Serbia. We get the message," Vučić told Serbian reporters during a visit to Obrenovac.

In a message to Serbs in Kosovo, he said that they "should not worry" and that he would soon talk with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, stressing Serbia's commitment to avoid conflicts and maintain peace.

"My message to all those who think that there will be new Storms, new pogroms and expulsions - I guarantee that that will not happen," Vučić said in reference to the 1995 Croatian military and police operation that liberated areas previously held by local Serbs who rebelled against the Croatian authorities.

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