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.

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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.

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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.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Plenković Accepts Krstičević's Resignation

ZAGREB, May 8, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković accepted Defence Minister Damir Krstičević's resignation on Friday, after a military plane crashed on Thursday killing two Croatian army pilots, saying that he did not make that decision because he believed Krstičević was responsible but rather because he respected him.

"Personally, I don't see any reason how I could in any way connect his political responsibility with the fact that that plane crashed, however, I understood from our talks that this situation has affected him personally," Plenković said after a four-hour meeting with Krstičević in Government House.

Plenković explained that he accepted minister's resignation because he respects him as a man and friend and not because he believes that Krstičević is responsible for anything.

"Accidents like this unfortunately occur. I am sorry that it affected him so much that he asked to be allowed to take a break from his duty in the government. I will not propose a new defence minister and one of the ministry's state secretaries will be acting as defence minister for the time being," said Plenković.

He added that Krstičević had informed him of the circumstances of the crash of a military trainer aircraft near Zadar in which two Air Force members were killed.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Plenković, Krstičević to Meet Today

ZAGREB, May 8, 2020 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević talked by phone on Thursday night and will meet on Friday, the government told Hina after Krstičević resigned over the death of two Air Force pilots.

Government spokesman Marko Milić told Hina the government "extends the deepest condolences to the families" of the two pilots killed in the crash of a military trainer aircraft near Zadar on Thursday afternoon.

The office of President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Zoran Milanovic would not comment on Krstičević’s resignation on Thursday evening but it is expected that he will do so on Friday.

Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) president Krešo Beljak said on Thursday that by resigning, Krstičević did "the right thing for the first time in his term." He and the HSS extended their condolences to the pilots' families.

The chair of the parliamentary defence committee, Igor Dragovan of the Social Democratic Party, said on Thursday the resignation was a highly moral and responsible act by the man responsible for the functioning of the defence system.

Speaking to Hina, he said Krstičević was not responsible for the crash but that his resignation was honourable.

Živi Zid leader Ivan Sinčić said on Thursday Krstičević had shown a number of times during his term that it was more important to him to favour NATO, his former company KING ICT and the clients of his ruling HDZ party than soldiers' safety.

In a Facebook post, he extended his condolences to the pilots' families.

More politics news can be found in the dedicated section.

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Croatian Army Provides 2 Helicopters for Transport of Coronavirus Patients

ZAGREB, April 9, 2020 - The Croatian Army will give support to the Health Ministry's crisis management team by providing Croatian Air Force's helicopters, which will be adapted to transport patients infected with the coronavirus, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

The crisis management team has had an adapted Mi-171 helicopter at its disposal since Wednesday, and it has been planned that another Mi-171Sh helicopter will be adapted for the purpose of transport of COVID-19 patients.

Since the Croatian Armed Forces do not possess specialised equipment or helicopters suited for transporting patients infected with or suspected to have COVID-19, the Aeronautical Technical Centre in Velika Gorica has devised a solution for adapting the helicopter's transport cabin.

New operational procedures have been developed for crews and medical teams engaged in transporting patients infected with COVID-19, including complete decontamination of helicopters, crews and medical teams, the Defence Ministry said in its press release.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Vouchers for Unused Trips Approved, Croatian Travel Agencies Pleased

April 8, 2020 - The Croatian Travel Agencies Association is grateful that their proposal to offer travel vouchers has been approved. 

HRTurizam reports that on Tuesday in Parliament, along with a package of other measures aimed at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were also made to the Law on Emergency Tourism Services, which allowed travel agencies to issue vouchers instead of refunding passengers for package arrangements.

"We are grateful to the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Government, and the Parliament for accepting our proposals to allow issuing vouchers for unfulfilled travel agreements that should have occurred in these extraordinary circumstances, i.e., after March 1, 2020. The passenger is fully protected as they receive a voucher they can use for another trip or a deferred travel period once the situation calms," said UHPA President Tomislav Fain.

Fain also added that the voucher would be covered by the already arranged bail to protect travel agencies from going bankrupt. 

"The traveler is also entitled to a refund if he or she does not wish to use the previously paid and booked travel, upon expiry of 180 days from the termination date of the special circumstances, and for a full refund within 14 days."

"As members of the European Association of National Travel Agencies and Travel Organizers (ECTAA), we have engaged in negotiations with the European Commission, which has instructed consumers to accept travel delays and vouchers. In communication with ECTAA colleagues from many countries such as France, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland who, in cooperation with their Governments, have also introduced a voucher in some form, we have come to a satisfactory solution and we are very pleased. We are glad that both our Ministry of Tourism and the Government has accepted the proposal and have a strong understanding of the sector, which is in an unprecedentedly difficult situation," said the President of the Association of Travel Agencies, HGK Boris Žgomba, also a member of the Board of Directors of ECTAA.

The agencies, apart from the new bookings and inflow of any funds stalled since February, could not even reach the funds for the already booked trips as the money had already been passed on to others in the package like airlines and hotels.

Most of the same refunds were provided to agencies in the form of deposits, vouchers, time delays and often nothing. In previously applicable provisions of the Act that transposed the EU Directive, travel agencies were in a difficult situation and forced to bear the brunt of the crisis on their own, even before the further escalation in the rest of the economy.

Already in the HGK and UHPA polls in February, 92 percent felt strong and medium adverse effects on long-term business, as school trips, congresses, and business trips stopped, along with restrictions on international travel and guest arrivals from Asia and other focal countries. This impact has only increased over the past month, with the closure of all borders and activities.

Of the 2061 registered travel agency companies and tour operators, 99.3% of them are small or micro-companies, and these losses represent an enormous blow to business, and as often are family businesses, this is directly the income of their entire families.

The Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) and the Association of Travel Agencies (UPA HGK) represent the leading professional associations in tourism that represent the interests of over 2000 registered companies for the activity of travel agencies and tour operators and employ nearly 6,500 people.

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