Originally Offered F-16 Fighter Jets or Nothing, Says Prime Minister

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ZAGREB, December 11, 2018 – Commenting on the latest developments regarding the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from Israel, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday that “the government does not consider the situation to be in any way burdensome for Croatia.”

“Last year we sent special delegations to both Israel and the United States and before the government made its decision, there had been no indications of any problem. The burden of obtaining consent from the United States for the delivery of the planes was taken on by the Israeli side. Croatia did everything in good faith, in line with the rules and tender procedure. At this moment, this is a matter of relations between Israel and the United States,” Plenković said.

“We will either buy the planes that were originally offered or the tender will be declared null and void, there is no dilemma about it and any other solution …. is out of the question,” Plenković said.

Asked if this was a stain for Croatia as a small country depending on the will of big powers, Plenković said that such an attitude “trivialises this topic.”

“I will not allow that to happen. As far as the team who was working on this is concerned, things were done professionally and at the moment the decision was made, there were no indications of any problem,” Plenković said.

Israel committed itself in writing that it would obtain the US government’s approval for the delivery of fighter jets to Croatia and that is exclusively Israel’s responsibility, the Croatian Defence Ministry said last Friday and added that if any official notice were to arrive, the public would be informed.

Earlier that day the US Embassy in Zagreb said that it was cooperating with Croatia and Israel on finding an acceptable solution that would enable the confirmation of the agreement on the purchase of Israeli F-16 fighter jets.

The US Embassy said that it had been cooperating with Israel for more than a year regarding the details of the proposed agreement on the purchase of the jets.

The Israeli media have reported that Washington is angry because it believes that by upgrading the electronic systems in the US-made aircraft, Israel has unfairly profited from their sale to Croatia.

The Croatian government in March decided to buy 12, about 30-year-old F-16 Barak fighter jets from Israel. The planes will cost Croatia 2.9 billion kuna over a period of ten years.

More news on Croatia’s military can be found in our Politics section.


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