ZAGREB, April 6, 2018 – Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević met in Tirana on Friday with his Albanian counterpart Olta Xhacka and said that, with the procurement of fighter jets, Croatia would strengthen the capacity of its armed forces and increase its contribution to the security of Southeast Europe, as well as that it was willing to offer the service of air policing to Albania, the Croatian Defence Ministry said in a press release.
“As you know, Croatia has made a decision to procure multi-purpose fighter jets that will strengthen the capacity of the Croatian Army and increase its contribution to the security of Southeast Europe. With the procurement of the new multi-purpose fighter jets, we will be ready to offer air policing to our NATO neighbours,” Krstičević said.
The two ministers underscored the importance of deepening cooperation between Albania and Croatia and announced that a cooperation agreement in the area of defence would be signed soon.
Minister Xhacka underlined that Albania and Croatia were important stakeholders in preserving stability and security in Southeast Europe. “Croatia is an important ally to Albania and I hope that we will expand and intensify our defence cooperation, particularly in the area of education, training and exercises,” Xhacka said.
Krstičević said that he supported Albania’s initiative to establish a NATO centre of excellence for foreign fighters and added that he was pleased that members of the Croatian Navy would participate in the “Albanian Lion” exercise in September. He also invited Xhacka to visit Croatia.
During the meeting, there was also talk of the possibility of cooperation in the defence industry and within multilateral associations, particularly NATO and the A5 initiative. “We believe that we can further develop our cooperation also in the area of the defence industry; you know that the Croatian soldier is completely equipped with Croatian products and is a sort of brand for the Croatian defence industry. I am glad that the quality of products by Croatian companies has been recognised in Albania and that members of the Albanian interior ministry are using our handguns and assault rifles,” Krstičević said.
On the second day of his official visit to Albania, Krstičević met with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ditmir Bushati.
At the meeting, the good cooperation between the two friendly countries was confirmed once again. Krstičević underscored that Croatia and Albania have a significant stabilising role in Southeast Europe, a press release said.
“This year, Albania and Croatia are marking nine years of their membership of NATO and they can be an example that will direct the region toward Euro-Atlantic integration,” the minister said and expressed Croatia’s support for Albania on its path to the EU and its readiness to share its experience.