“Croatia and all our citizens are proud of you”, said the President.
Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović met with members of Croatian aerial fire fighting crews which recently took part in extinguishing wildfires during a humanitarian mission in Israel and which on Tuesday returned to Croatia, reports Jutarnji List on December 8, 2016.
The President congratulated the crews, members of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence, on their sacrifice, stressing that Croatia and all its citizens are proud of them. “The results which you have achieved and our previous experience in the participation of members of the Armed Forces in humanitarian support missions to civilian population in Croatia, in the event of wildfires, large-scale floods and in search and rescue missions, ensure that our Armed Forces have skills and technical and material support necessary for the execution of such non-traditional military tasks”, said the President.
The President recalled that Croatian crews participated in a similar mission in Israel in 2010, as well as in other humanitarian international missions of support in Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Portugal. “In addition to immediate effects, all these activities also strengthened bilateral ties between Croatia and these countries”, she said.
The President thanked the Israeli Ambassador in Croatia Kalay Kleitman, who attended the reception at the Office of the President, for the confidence which Israel showed to Croatia by inviting Croatian pilots to take part in the humanitarian mission and for the warm reception and care during their stay in Israel.
Colonel Davor Turković said that the Croatian contingent consisted of two Canadair aircraft and 14 people. They spent 13 days in Israel, together with crews of about twenty aircraft from other countries which also sent help to Israel. “Given the distance of wildfires from the sea, we have executed a total of 35 flight hours. We threw about four ‘water bombs’ per hour. Most of our activities were preventive, in order to put out the fires at the beginning, and to show the people of Israel how we do it in Croatia”, he said, adding that the cooperation with the Israeli military was extremely successful.
“The cooperation with the Israeli army, which is one of the best organized in the world, was certainly a wonderful experience for us and for them. To them it was an entirely new activity, but for us it was an entirely new way of organization at all levels – from the lowest tactical level upward”, concluded Colonel Turković.