Croatia could soon have many more (involuntary) soldiers.
The ruling coalition wants to reintroduce military conscription in Croatia, but the final decision will ultimately depend on whether there will be enough money in the budget. The position of the government was presented during a debate in the Parliamentary Committee for Defence which unanimously supported the appointment of Mirko Šundov as the Chief of General Staff of the Croatian Army. The committee also unanimously supported the project of equipping the Croatian Armed Forces with OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, reports Večernji List on February 24, 2016.
Ines Strenja Linić (MOST) said that the government should consider the introduction of military conscription on a voluntary basis, as well as more active use of reserve forces. On the other hand, Stevo Culej (HDZ) wants conscription to be obligatory. “I will advocate for the military conscription so that there are no more divisions between the north and the south of Croatia”, explained Culej. Pero Ćorić (HSP AS) added that he hoped the debate on the need to reintroduce the obligatory military service would be started as soon as possible.
Defence Minister Josip Buljević also supported the reintroduction of conscription, but added that he was aware that the project would be quite expensive. “We have talked about it, I personally support it, but the question is how much funds we will have and what are our current priorities”, said the minister.
Committee Chairman Igor Dragovan (SDP) believes that it was a good decision to abolish conscription in 2006. “Obligatory military service, as far as I know, requires substantial funds. During the previous government, there were some steps made regarding the reserve forces, but I do not support the reintroduction of compulsory military service”, said Dragovan.
Members of the Committee also voiced their opinions about the outgoing Chief of General Staff Drago Lovrić, whose five year term is near its end. They all praised him for everything he had done. “Being the chief of General Staff is a difficult and demanding position, and I think you were very good at that job. We have excellent soldiers, our army is victorious, but we have new challenges and we have to change ourselves. The army needs a new momentum and new energy”, said Damir Krstičević (HDZ).
Predrag Matić (SDP) said that Lovrić did everything he could for Croatia to have a strong army, despite insufficient funds available for the armed forces. “There are two things which are good in Croatia, the motorway system and the Croatian Army. The selection of Šundov as the next chief of General Staff is the best we can offer”, said Matić.