ZAGREB, February 17, 2018 – Defence Minister Damir Krstičević said on Friday that Croatia was systematically increasing its defence budget to reach NATO’s goal of 2% of GDP from the present 1.32%.
NATO wants the member states to spend 2% of GDP on defence. The United States, the biggest contributor to common defence, also insists that the alliance’s European members increase defence spending.
“Croatia is systematically increasing defence allocations. We are increasing our defence capabilities and strengthening the victorious Croatian army,” Krstičević told the press at a security conference in Munich. “Last year, we halted the defence budget decline after six years. This government has increased the budget both last year and this year and now we are at 1.32% of GDP,” he added.
Krstičević and Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić were representing Croatia at a traditional gathering of the security community in the Bavarian capital.
Krstičević called for stronger defence cooperation between the EU and NATO. “New security challenges, cyber threats, terrorism and hybrid activity require common and coordinated action and a timely exchange of information,” he said and added: “Croatia is involved in the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project and here we want to include the potential of the Croatian defence industry even more.”
On the margins of the conference, Krstičević met separately with defence ministry officials from Germany and Israel. He confirmed that one of the topics discussed was the planned purchase of fighter aircraft. “We discussed that too. Right now we are in additional consultations with all the partners to make a responsible and affordable decision,” Krstičević said.
The Croatian army plans to buy multi-purpose fighter jets to replace its outdated Russian-made MiG-21 aircraft. Greece, Israel, Sweden and the US have presented their bids.