ZAGREB, February 20, 2020 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday afternoon that he had already held talks with the newly inaugurated president Zoran Milanović on the appointment of the new chief-of-staff of the armed forces and the engagement of Croatian troops in the peace mission in Afghanistan.
“Yes, we discussed some of those topics this morning. One of them being the appointment of the new chief-of-staff of the Croatian Armed Forces. The government will tomorrow nominate Mr Hranj and the new president has agreed with that,” Plenković told reporters ahead of a meeting of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) leadership on Wednesday afternoon.
The PM confirmed that he had spoken with Milanović on the phone and that one of the topics was the participation of Croatia’s contingent in the NATO-led peace mission in Afghanistan.
Plenković explained that they had agreed that the 12th contingent would be deployed now that the engagement of the 11th contingent had ended.
Milanović is supposed to sign the decision on the deployment of the contingent and after that senior officials will discuss the further presence of Croatian troops in that Asian country, according to Plenković’s explanation.
Earlier in the day, Milanović said that he would agree with the government’s proposal that Rear Admiral Robert Hranj be appointed new military chief of staff. In his address to reporters Milanovic, who was inaugurated on Tuesday, said that he had already discussed this topic with Prime Minister Plenković.
Speaking about the presence of Croatian troops in Afghanistan, on 15 February Milanović said that the Croatian Army had not belonged there for some time now.
“Croatia can make a decision entirely on its own, by sticking to the rules of gentlemanly behaviour and fairness. In half a year, things should be positioned differently,” he said when asked by reporters if Croatia would make an autonomous decision on withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.
He said that Croatian troops had not belonged in Afghanistan for three years and that troops should be withdrawn.
“Our soldiers who serve in the mission there will have the opportunity to use their competence and experience and make some money in other parts of the world. That’s national policy,” he stressed.
Currently 60,000 NATO troops are participating in the mission in Afghanistan, including 110 from Croatia.
Last Friday, Plenković said that a decision to withdraw Croatian troops could only be the result of agreement, within Croatia and at the international level.
More news about Croatia and the NATO can be found in the Politics section.