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.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Roma in the Homeland War: More Research on Defending Croatia Needed

August 5, 2021 - When talking about the fight for Croatian independence, the public often tends to forget about the contributions of minorities such as Roma in the Homeland War. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac reminds us of a 2019 book that researched Roma participation in defending Croatia, which is a great starting point for further research today.   

Croatia is marking the 26th Anniversary of Operation Storm, a military action that, on August 5, 1995, marked the liberation of occupied territory (apart from Eastern Slavonia, which was returned to Croatia later on during peaceful reintegration).

Victory Day is filled with pride, but for some, there is a shade of bitterness as a result of the questionable treatment of civilians and prisoners of war that to this day continues to divide the opinion of the Croatian public and remains a topic of numerous historical debates.

As noticed by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR), things changed significantly in 2020. This came as a result of moves made by Croatian politicians, not only with words but also by their honouring of Serbian civilian victims in Varivode and Gruber.

''Last year's anniversary was marked by changes in the official policy towards Operation Storm (Oluja), known in Croatia as Victory Day (Dan Pobjede) and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan Domovinske Zahvalnosti). August 2020 saw the public space filled with messages about reconciliation, dialogue, the importance of facts, condolences for war crime victims, and appeals for a conversation about different views on Operation Storm in both Croatia and Serbia,'' said YIHR.

With 2020 evoking feelings of sympathy for all victims of the Homeland War, a significant step was also made back in 2019 to recognise that not only ethnic Croats fought for the freedom and independence of their country. 

We defended Croatia Too: Roma People in the Homeland War“, is a monography by Borna Marinić which was presented in 2019. It was the first publication to gather info on the contribution made in the war by the often discriminated against and socially isolated minority in Croatia. The presentation was held in the "Zvonimir Home" of the Croatian military in Zagreb. The publication was the first to really delve into the contribution of Roma in the Homeland War.

The promotion gathered many VIP attendees of political and military Croatian authorities at the time. Marinić, a historian and the editor of the website ''Dogodilo se na Današnji Dan'' (It Happened on This Day), pointed out that not a lot is known about the actions of the Roma in the Homeland War, and this lack of documentation was the biggest problem he had to tackle when it came to verbal storytelling from witnesses.

''I visited Roma veterans and their commanders as well as other relevant people across Croatia, recording their statements and testimonies about the Homeland War,'' said Marinić. His research saw more than 50 people interviewed, but the total count of Roma people who participated in the war still remains unknown.

Dr. Martin Previšić pointed out while reviewing the book that it doesn't provide readers with a linear story of the war's history, but rather an authentic view on the hell of wartime and the solidarity which trumped very many differences. 

''Vukovar, Baranja, Pakrac, Novska, and Karlovac were places in which Croatia was defended, but they were also places where Roma people gave their tribute to that same defense,'' said Previšić.

Veljko Kajtazi, a member of the Croatian Parliament, elected as a representative of the Roma community, attended the representation, delighted to see that this important but unexplored subject was finally being tackled by a researcher in the first-ever book published on the topic. He pointed out, however, that this book cannot be viewed as an encyclopedia as it didn't record the experiences of all Roma people, nor does it have all of the information from all fronts, but it is a terrific base for further research.

''I'm grateful to my fellow Roma people who shared their stories and whose faith is the cornerstone of this book. I felt the obligation for Roma people to come forward and present themselves in a different light. Roma people, in large numbers, defended Croatia and gave their contribution to the defense in key moments,'' concluded Kajtazi.

Kajtazi talked about the need for Roma people to begin presenting themselves in a different light and stated that there are definitely numerous issues caused by stereotypes that Roma people are involved in crime and as such can't be trusted. 

As TCN previously wrote, The Human Rights in Croatia 2020 Overview report by Human Rights House Zagreb noticed how Roma people in Croatia still face very many obstacles in achieving their rights, which include employment, access to services, and adequate living standards, and there is still segregation in the Croatian education system too.

Additionally, the global issue of COVID-19 brought new problems for Roma people in regard to vaccination against COVID-19, a topic both Kajtazi and the Croatian Public Health Institute (HZJZ) spoke about for TCN.

Roma people helped Croatia during the darkest of its days as a new and young country. Respecting and working on actively including Roma people in our society as equals is the very least Croatia can do in return.

Learn more about Croatian politics and history from the 1990s on our TC page.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Croatian Defence Minister and Chief-of-Staff on Official Visit to USA

ZAGREB, 21 July, 2021 - Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Croatian Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff , Admiral Robert Hranj are on an official visit to the USA to mark the 25th anniversary of cooperation with the Minnesota National Guard, as part of the State Partnership Programme, the Defence Ministry reported on Wednesday.

This is Minister Banožić's first official visit to the United States since stepping into office.

Banožić and Hranj visited the Sikorsky helicopter factory in Connecticut on Monday where they met with the company's executives and president Paul Lemmo.

The company is a subsidiary of the Lockhead Martin company which also producers UH-60 Black Hawk and SH-60 Seahawk helicopters. 

The Defence Ministry (MORH) points out the importance of military and technological cooperation with the USA which includes donations and the procurement of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the armed forces. During the meeting, Minister Banožić said that a US donation in 2019 was an important support to Croatia's national policy aimed at transitioning to equipment originating in the West.

"After that donation, we decided to procure two more Black Hawk helicopters and have allocated $85 million for that purpose. Our ambition is to continue developing this investment because, being a reliable and credible member of the NATO alliance, the transition to Western technology is the only possible and correct path," Banožić said. He expressed his satisfaction that at the moment Croatia's military pilots and aviation technicians are attending various training courses in the US, specialising in particular on the  Black Hawk helicopter.

"We also have two pilots gaining additional flying hours in Minnesota in cooperation and assistance of the Minnesota National Guard. This is important for us, not only in the context of buying equipment but in the context of security because we will obtain the necessary support in training," added Banožić.

Black Hawk helicopters can be used to support civilian institutions - in fighting wildfires, search and rescue missions, and emergency medical transport.

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

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Thirteen Foreigners, Presumably Migrants, Found at Slunj Military Range

ZAGREB, Aug 29, 2020 - Thirteen foreign citizens have been found and identified at the Eugen Kvaternik Military Range in the central Croatian town of Slunj, and they have been handed over to police for further action, Croatia's Defence Ministry (MORH) said on Saturday.

A group of thirteen foreign citizens who had illegally crossed the Croatian border was identified and detained at the Eugen Kvaternik Military Range on Friday at about 6.30 pm.

The group then reported that a female child aged 12 had gone missing from the group, the ministry's press release said.

Since the disappearance was reported, members of the Croatian Armed Forces have been intensively searching for the missing girl around the Eugen Kvaternik Military Range.

The Croatian police were immediately informed about this and they took over the foreign nationals and are also conducting an intensive search, MORH added.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

VIDEO: Watch MORH Drone Footage Over the Adriatic Sea

As Morski writes on the 21st of May, 2019, the new Orbiter 3 is MORH's new means for the country's Homeland Security system, and will be used for by the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Croatia and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Croatia.

MORH states that their aircraft will be used in early fire detection, in the control of waterways and roads, support in crisis situations, and for support in the control of the country's borders.

The Orbiter 3 drone weighs 30 kilograms, its flight range is 150 km and it can be in the air for as long as seven hours, and when descending, a parachute is released. Its wingspan is 4.4 metres wide and it can cruise at 130 kilometres per hour.

The unmanned aircraft was first introduced to the public during the Paris Air Show back in 2005. It is made entirely of carbon composite and is powered by an electric motor, in addition it is equipped with an optical and an infrared camera, and data link and navigation systems (GPS and INS).

What is also interesting to note is the fact that the Serbian army acquired ten such Orbiters eleven years ago, In addition to Serbia and Israel, these Orbiter drones are used by Azerbaijan, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Poland and Uganda.

Although the Orbiter 3 prototype was first introduced back in 2011, there have been improved versions of its two predecessors (in addition to the camera, a laser sight has also been added), MORH did not publicly disclose the characteristics of the camera itself on this particular version. The manufacturer has rather vaguely written that it boasts a "high definition camera", but whether or not that is in reference to 2019's standards, we don't know.

These drones should also control fishing in the Adriatic sea, and a contract worth 4.88 million euros with the Israeli company Aeronautics was signed by the Minister of Agriculture Tomislav Tolušić back in May 2018.

View MORH's new drone footage here:

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Saturday, 18 May 2019

Croatia Searching for Fighter Jets Again, Negotiations with USA and Sweden

The recent fighter jet story was a bit of a flop (yes, that's an understatement) for Croatia, but it seems that not all is lost, despite the entire situation having been made the butt of numerous jokes ever since.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 18th of May, 2019, a delegation from Sweden was led by an individual from FMV, a state-run company that deals with arms export operations.

Throughout 2019, the Croatian Government will try its hand at yet another attempt to procure some fighter jets. It appears, despite the total and utter failure to reach a deal with Israel and Croatia's previously desired acquisition of some F16's, that the government just isn't giving up on its plans.

As Vecernji list reports, after the Croatian Military Delegation returned from the United States over a month ago from the initial round of talks about the aircraft, the same type of initial meeting was held on the 8th of May, but with the Swedes, in which Croatia's "interest" was activated once again, this time for the purchase of the JAS-39 Gripen.

The delegation to the United States was headed by General Mirko Šundov, while Robert Hranj was placed in charge of the talks on the specific topic of the aircraft. All that was found out after that was that from the American side, no offers on the aircraft had been made.

As for the Swedes, they showed somewhat greater ambition. As Croatia's delegation had returned from the United States visibly disappointed, and they'd even heard that the Americans were astonished when they realised that Croatia still had a firm intention to acquire those jets, MORH set up a similar meeting, but this time with the Swedes.

As stated, the delegation from Sweden was led by an individual from FMV, which is a state-run company that runs and deals with arms export operations. In addition, there was also a representative of SAAB, the manufacturer of the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft. The Croatian delegation consisting of ten persons was headed by Hranj.

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