Croatian Military Budget Increasing Both for Country’s and NATO’s Sake

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ZAGREB, February 16, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Friday the government was increasing Croatian military budget for its security and to meet its NATO obligations at a time when the US is pushing allies to set aside more for defence.

Since being elected, President Donald Trump has been criticising NATO’s European member states, saying they are not complying with the obligation to set aside 2% of GDP for defence, the target allies set in 2014. Only six out of the 29 member states are meeting the target. Croatia, which joined NATO in 2009, is spending about 1.3% of GDP on defence.

Speaking to reporters at the Munich Security Conference, Plenković said the US pressure did not divide the US and Europe. “It’s an ambition that’s many years old. It’s true that the US administration has put this issue on the table in a little stronger and more articulated way than before.”

He said the Croatian government had been increasing the military budget since 2016 “first and foremost for us and for our security, to strengthen our army, but also for a wider contribution to the efforts of all allies.”

Plenković said the US and its European partners had come closer recently, after Trump at one time threatened to leave NATO unless the allies increased their financing.

“If we go back to 2016 and certain comments on American unilateralism, on a diplomacy which is more oriented to the economy and trade… Today, after a series of meetings, this has been brought back to relatively similar frameworks as it used to be, and one feels that NATO is important both to the US and to European allies,” he said.

On the fringes of the conference, he met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, saying ahead of the meeting they would talk about Croatia’s contribution to NATO’s global strategy.

Plenković said Croatia would soon ratify North Macedonia’s NATO accession treaty.

On the first day of the conference, he attended a closed round table on the Three Seas Initiative, which is focused on strengthening cooperation between Baltic, Black Sea and Adriatic countries.

Prior to it, Plenković said the construction of an LNG terminal in Croatia fit into the Initiative, as did the current European troika – incumbent EU president Romania, its successor Finland in the second half of this year and Croatia in the first half of 2020.

More news on Croatia’s defence issues can be found in the Politics section.


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