The ceremony is taking place in the barracks of the 132nd Croatian Army Brigade in the eastern city of Našice without the presence of the media. It is being attended by President Zoran Milanović in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces, while Defence Minister Mario Banožić has canceled his attendance.
The Defence Ministry said that Banožić had canceled his attendance because neither he nor the contingent commander was scheduled to address the ceremony and because the media were not allowed into the barracks to cover the event.
“The Croatian Army is above all of us politicians. We are all transient, and it will exist as long as there is Croatia. I did not go to Našice for the send-off ceremony because I wanted no part in a show by the gentleman who unfortunately does not understand the first two sentences in this post. I wish the members of the 36th Croatian Contingent a safe journey and a successful mission. See you soon,” the defence minister wrote on Facebook.
Although the Ministry’s press office on Sunday invited the media to cover the event, the President’s Office later said that the ceremony “does not envisage the participation of the media,” adding that the public would be informed about the event in a press release which would include photographs.
Representatives of the media gathered outside the barracks gate on Monday morning but were denied entry.
The President’s Office said that the sole purpose of the send-off ceremony was to show the commander in chief, military commanders, and the defence minister the contingent’s readiness for the mission. “Such an important event for the military cannot and will not be used for anyone’s daily political interests,” it said.
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