Defence Minister and Chief of General Staff discuss the major Croatian Air Force scandal.
“The investigation about the refurbishment of Croatian MiGs in Ukraine is not a step towards the abolishment of the Croatian Air Force combat aircraft capability. If we determine that someone was guilty of what happened, they will not be spared”, said Defence Minister Josip Buljević in his first public comments on the scandal which has hit the Croatian Air Force in the last few days, reports tportal.hr on March 24, 2016.
“We will implement the long-term development plan of the Croatian Armed Forces. By the end of this year, we will try to make a decision on how to protect our sky. My whole team and I personally will do our best to maintain the combat aircraft capability, and the decision-making process will involve pilots as well”, said Buljević.
As for the recent investigation into the refurbishment of MiGs in Ukraine, Buljević congratulated the Military Security and Intelligence Agency (VSOA) and the military police, saying that “in a short period of time they have done a great job and will continue to work – I encourage them to keep working”. He pointed out that “everything is in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office, which has all the information and all the documents”.
One of those who possibly could have done something about the scandal was Mirko Šundov, who is now the Chief of the General Staff, but who at the time headed the Defence Inspectorate. Buljević, noting that he could not discuss the details of the investigation, said he trusted General Šundov.
Šundov said that he was appointed as the head of Defence Inspectorate on 1 November 2014 and that the Inspectorate works on the basis of an annual plan approved by the Defence Minister. “In the plan for 2015 which was approved by the Minister I did not have the task to control these issues. The minister (Ante Kotromanović) did not issue a decision on emergency supervision”, said Šundov and stressed that he had no official information about it, including any information from the VSOA. If he had some information, he would have acted in accordance with his legal authority, added Šundov.
As for the currently grounded MiGs, Šundov said that “the most important thing is safety and they will be grounded until the investigation is completed”. “The remaining aircraft enable us to perform the tasks which we have”, said Šundov.