Monday, 29 November 2021

Banožić: Defence Ministry Won't Cover for Incompetence of President's Office

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić on Monday responded to accusations from the president's office that soldiers were not receiving per diems, telling the head of the president's office and the president's defence advisor that the ministry "will not cover for their incompetence".

"Instead of holding unconvincing press conferences and shifting responsibility to others, the gentlemen from the Office of the President should be more responsible in spending their office's budget, so there would be no problems they had mentioned. While I am minister, the Ministry of Defence will not cover for their incompetence," Banožić wrote on Facebook.

The head of the president's office, Orsat Miljenić, and presidential defence adviser Dragan Lozančić said today that Banožić's abuse had spread to soldiers who supported the president because they had not received their per diems.

Miljenić said Banožić decided a month ago not to pay per diems to soldiers who supported President Zoran Milanović in any way, specifically soldiers who recently were lined up in Vukovar and carried wreaths in Škabrnja.

Miljenić said the military chief-of-staff warned the president's office about dozens of such cases in the past month. He added that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was notified but has taken no action.

Miljenić said this situation was unacceptable and hoped that Banožić would rescind his "unconstitutional and unlawful decision" and resume paying people what they had earned.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 29 November 2021

President's Office: Defence Minister's Abuse Has Spread to Soldiers

ZAGREB, 29 Nov 2021 - The head of the president's office, Orsat Miljenić, and presidential adviser Dragan Lozančić said on Monday that Defence Minister Mario Banožić's abuse had spread to soldiers who supported the president because they had not received their per diems.

Speaking to the press in the president's office, Miljenić said soldiers were doing their job honorably and that Banožić's abuse had spread to them following the "unlawful and sudden" retiring of Colonel Elvis Burčul and the harassment of the Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj.

Miljenić said Banožić decided a month ago not to pay per diems to soldiers who supported President Zoran Milanović in any way, specifically soldiers who recently were lined up in Vukovar and carried wreaths in Škabrnja.

Miljenić said the president's office had to react because Hranj warned them about dozens of such cases in the past month. He added that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković was notified but has taken no action.

Miljenić said this situation was unacceptable and hoped that Banožić would rescind his "unconstitutional and unlawful decision" and resume paying people what they had earned.

The president's defence and national security adviser Lozančić said the people in question were active soldiers who were executing their tasks in line with annual plans.

He said that in a letter to the defence minister, Chief-Of-Staff Hranj told Banožić that he saw his decision in part as a continuation of his conduct so far, which Hranj said had all the elements of a strategic abuse of him as a person and a soldier which began when Banožić asked that Hranj resign, and continued in public criticisms and Defence Ministry press releases.

Under the decision in question, Armed Forces personnel are not allowed to support the president's office nor use Defence Ministry money. Also, the costs incurred while extending such support will not be paid.

In his letter, Hranj told Banožić that his decision obstructs and hampers the functioning of the Armed Forces in general, and in particular the Honorary and Protection Battalion, whose fundamental job is to support and protect the president.

Responding to questions from the press, Lozančić said that unless the minister changed his decision, the president had two choices, either not to execute his duty as commander in chief and represent the army at certain events or do so.

Miljenić said all people in possession of a valid command and travel order would get their money, and that he hoped there would be no lawsuits, but added that this was up to the minister.

He said the president was elected to also represent the army at home and abroad, which the minister "neither can nor has the right to restrict."

Miljenić said the president would continue to go where he had to and that under the constitution and the law, the minister was not authorized to withhold per diems for soldiers accompanying the president.

He added that it was Hranj who gave the commands based on which travel orders were issued, and noted that the commander in chief represents the Armed Forces and that they support him in doing so, in which the minister of defence has no say.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Sound Barrier Will Be Broken as Part of Regular Flight Activities, Says DM

November 10, 2021 - As part of the exercises carried out by Croatian fighter jets in the temporary test flight zone of Čazma from Wednesday to Friday, the Defense Ministry has announced that the sound barrier may be broken and asks citizens for their understanding and patience.

The Ministry of Defense reported that on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday it is possible to expect the sound wall to be breached as part of the regular flying activities of Croatian Air Force fighter jets, reports HRT News.

From 12 noon to 4 pm on Wednesday and on Thursday, 11 November and Friday, 12 November from 10 am to 4 pm, pilots of the 191st Squadron of 91st Wing fighter jets will conduct regular flying activities during which a sound barrier can be expected to break through.

The planned test flights are being held at subsonic speeds in the temporary test flight zone of Čazma, which is geographically remote from the northeast, in the range of 600 to 1000 meters above the ground.

Čazma is a town in Bjelovar-Bilogora County, Croatia. It is part of Moslavina. It is situated 60 kilometers east of Zagreb and only 30 kilometers from the center of the region: Bjelovar. The town of Čazma is one of the oldest towns in the Republic of Croatia.

After the test flights in the temporary test flight zone Čazma, the last phase of testing the aircraft will be carried out, during which the sound barrier is expected to be breached in the Zagreb, Bjelovar-Bilogora, and Koprivnica-Križevci counties at an altitude of 1,000 to 10,000 meters and in the area Požega-Slavonia, Osijek-Baranja, Virovitica-Podravina,

Bjelovar-Bilogora and Koprivnica-Križevci counties at an altitude of over 10,000 meters, in compliance with all safety measures.

During the implementation of the planned flights and due to the breach of the sound wall, short-term amplified noise is expected, and we ask the citizens for patience and understanding, the Ministry of Defense reported.

For more on politics, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Milanović Says Plenković Should Rein Defence Minister In

ZAGREB, 21 Oct 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Thursday that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should "rein his pal in", a reference to Defence Minister Mario Banožić and his decision to send into retirement the commander of the Honor Guard Battalion, Brigadier Elvis Burčul.

Speaking to reporters in Baćin, where he attended the 30th anniversary of the plight of local residents in the 1991-95 war, Milanović said that PM Plenković was the minister's "political guardian" and that he was not in conflict with Banožić over Burčul's retirement but that he would guarantee the army protection against "bullying and harassment."

"The minister is not relevant here. This is an immoral, serious abuse of legal authority to which I can respond with much bigger power. But where does that lead? The guardian should rein in his pal, who is a man without political autonomy. This has to do with the Prime Minister... and that can be proven easily," Milanović said.

In that context, he mentioned a state secretary in the government who was an active general, noting that he should have already sent him into retirement but did not do it because he felt sorry for him and waited for Plenković's decision.

"I want it done right away, otherwise I will have to do it. I warned Plenković of that because Banožić does not make any decisions anyway."

Milanović noted that an active serviceman cannot be a member of a political government.

Asked about the motive for Burčul's retirement, Milanović said: "A personal vendetta."

I want Burčul back and for him to retire in a dignified way

He noted that the Honor Guard Battalion was in charge of his security.

"And the minister dares harass such a person (Burčul). I want him back at work and I want him to retire in a dignified way," he said.

He noted that the extension of Burčul's term had been requested due to the requirements of the post, for the sake of transfer of duties and appointment of a new, younger commander as well as to enable Burčul to retire in a year and a half in a dignified way, instead of "being harassed by a person who until yesterday was a political nobody."

"That cannot pass, otherwise I will start acting the same way, but not towards the army," he said.

Milanović noted that the legal regulation under which the minister made the decision about Burčul's retirement was unconstitutional.

"The President of the Republic is the Commander-in-Chief, the minister is not, there is no mention about the minister in the Constitution. The minister has very extensive powers which in my opinion by far exceed the spirit and message of the Constitution - they decide about people's destinies during their term... If you rub them the wrong way, you can end up paying for it dearly," he said.

Milanović said that given that the budget was being adopted, he would on Friday request a meeting of the Defence Council due to the worrying financial situation in the army, noting that he believed Plenković would "delay the meeting, too, just as he makes an ordeal of everything, including the appointment of the Supreme Court president."

Asked if Burčul's retirement could be Plenković's revenge for the Supreme Court president, he said that it was possible.

"But that's futile, I can always respond in kind or worse in some cases," he said, mentioning in that context the appointment of new diplomats.

If you have not got vaccinated, you only have yourselves to blame

Commenting on the vaccination campaign and the potential expansion of the use of COVID-19 certificates, Milanović said that people in charge of making those decisions did not have a way to motivate people to get vaccinated "apart from using repression and nagging them."

"This is October 2021, those who have not got vaccinated have only themselves to blame," he said.

Milanović noted that it was possible he would receive a third shot but would have to check the level of antibodies first.

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

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Croatian Firefighting Plane Returns From Mission in Turkey

ZAGREB, 7 Aug, 2021 - A Croatian Air Force firefighting plane on Saturday returned to the Zemunik air base near Zadar from Turkey, where it had been helping put out major wildfires in the region of Antalya.

The plane left Croatia on 2 August, with two crews on board.

It performed 82 flights, dropping 438 tonnes of water and consuming 19,205 litres of fuel, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

Minister Mario Banožić thanked the Croatian pilots and technicians for performing their tasks professionally, noting that the Croatian Army was always ready to promptly provide assistance, not only in Croatia but abroad as well.

"This mission contributes to the promotion of the Croatian Armed Forces' reputation and capabilities. Our colleagues in Turkey welcomed us warmly and assisted us throughout firefighting operations. They expressed gratitude to the Croatian people and the Croatian Army for their help," he said.

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

PM Suggests that Defence Council Can Convene on Thursday or Friday

ZAGREB, 19 May, 2021 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday that he had responded to President Zoran Milanović's request for convening a session of the Defence Council and offered that the session could be held on Thursday or Friday morning.

We offered him two appointments: tomorrow or on Friday morning, so that this advisory body could be convened and that council has no role in decision making, Plenković said after the inner cabinet's meeting in Zagreb.

Commenting on the planned purchase of military jets on Tuesday President Milanović said that he had invited Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to call a session of the Defence Council on this topic together with him.

Plenković said today that his cabinet had been working on the analysis of all the bids for the combat aircraft procurement, and on Tuesday, a few ministers were informed of the process.

This process is  extremely complex and demanding, Plenković said adding that the decision would be made public as soon as the government made it.

Plenković said that Milanović "is trying now jump on the bandwagon" concerning the combat jets decision ahead of NATO's summit meeting, whereas he had refused to appoint his envoy to the interdepartmental commission authorised to decide on the matter.

Asked by the press whether the Defence Council's meeting could be an opportunity for the heads of state and government to meet and overcome their conflicts, Plenković answered that this would not be a topic on the meeting's agenda.

"You have a deceitful man who is insulting the whole political scene, while many pundits are trying to reduce it to political one-upmanship. This is not political one-upmanship between us. This is unprecedented behaviour (of the president) towards a series of stakeholders and interlocutors on the political scene," the premier said.

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

For more news about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Construction of Army Field Hospital and Troop Accommodation Facility Begins at Slunj

ZAGREB, November 25, 2020 - The foundation stone was laid for a Role 1 field hospital on the Croatian army's training ground at Slunj on Wednesday, and work began on a building for the occasional accommodation of up to 200 personnel, which is financed by the United States government with $1.7 million.

The work will be carried out by the Croatian Army Engineers Corps and US engineers.

The event was attended by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Zdravko Jakop, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Lt. Gen. Sinisa Jurkovic, and the US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst.

Ambassador Kohorst said that the US was Croatia's most important strategic partner in defence and security and that their defence cooperation was a very important part of the overall cooperation between the two countries.

The construction of the two facilities will improve the living and security conditions during training, and the project is part of the successful cooperation between the US and Croatia, Lt. Gen. Jurkovic said.

Jurkovic thanked the American friends for the donation, saying that it was the result of cooperation at all levels. He particularly praised Ambassador Kohorst for his contribution.

Jakop said that the two facilities would increase the quality of life and work at Slunj, the largest military training ground in Croatia, adding that the cooperation with the US had increased the level of troop readiness and complementarity.

US ambassador hopes Croatia will opt for F-16 aircraft

Kohorst said that the US had invested $700 million in Croatia through defence cooperation over the last 10 years. He said that Croatia and the US were successfully working together both politically and militarily, as well as in humanitarian work.

The US ambassador said he was confident that the cooperation would continue, expressing a wish that in buying fighter jets for its Air Force Croatia would choose the US offer of F-16 aircraft.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Defence Ministry: Faults on Helicopters Removed or Being Repaired

ZAGREB, July 23, 2020 - The faults found on two Croatian helicopters participating in the NATO mission in Kosovo have been removed or are being repaired and have not affected the operational capability of the Croatian Air Force or the continuity of the NATO operation, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

"All the faults have been removed or are being repaired and have not affected the operational capability of the Croatian Air Force or the continuity of the NATO operation," the ministry said in response to a query from Hina after the commercial television channel Nova TV reported that two helicopters had been found in May to be faulty.

The ministry said that only minor faults had been found on the helicopters. One has been repaired in the meantime and is in operational use, while the other is expected to be operational later this week.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

33rd Croatian Contingent Leaves for Kosovo

ZAGREB, May 12, 2020 - The 33rd Croatian army contingent (HRVCON) was sent to Kosovo on Monday to join NATO's KFOR peace mission in Kosovo, Croatia's Defence Ministry said.

The contingent was seen off by Commander Boris Panić, who underscored that Croatia has participated in the peace mission in Kosovo since 2009 with personnel and two helicopters.

"The contingent is completely prepared to conduct its duty in the field of operation and I am certain that it will represent the Croatian Army and Croatia in this mission in a dignified manner," Panić said.

The commander of the 33rd contingent, Colonel Dubravko Radić, said that the contingent was well prepared, experienced and ready for the new mission. "A specific feature of this mission is that all its members spent two weeks in quarantine recommended by epidemiological measures. They were all tested prior to being sent and we are leaving completely ready to contribute to building and maintaining peace and stability in Kosovo under the auspices of NATO's operation," said Radić.

The main duty for Croatia's contingent as part of the KFOR operation is in and around the Slatina airport in Priština and to transport KFOR troops, freight and VIP personnel.

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

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Krstičević: I Resigned Because of My Sense of Responsibility and Honour

ZAGREB, May 9, 2020 - Former Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said on his Facebook page on Friday that he had resigned because of his sense of responsibility and military honour.

"I resigned at Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence because of my sense of responsibility and military honour. I am above all a general who fought in the Homeland War and I always took responsibility and care for my men, both in wartime and in peacetime," Krstičević wrote.

He thanked Croatian Army servicemen and Defence Ministry staff for their dedicated work over the past four years.

"Keep on working to make the Croatian Army stronger and keep on building on the victorious spirit of the Homeland War. Strengthening the Croatian Army is your permanent mission and has no alternative," he said.

Krstičević resigned on Thursday after a military trainer aircraft crashed in the Zadar hinterland killing both airmen aboard.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković accepted his resignation, saying that he did not decide so because he thought Krstičević was responsible but because he respected him.

More news about the Ministry of Defence can be found in the Politics section.

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