ZAGREB, December 8, 2018 – The US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst, commented on Friday on the problem regarding the sale of modified Israeli F-16 fighter jets to Croatia, saying that Israel has to accept the set technical requirements for the American side to agree to the sale of 12 fighter jets, and adding that this debate has to do with who owns the rights to the technical and intellectual property.
“The Israelis need to accept the technical requirements and as soon as that’s done, we can move forward and the sale can go through,” Kohorst said at a farewell ceremony for the outgoing Israeli Ambassador Zina Kalay Kleitman.
According to Kohorst, “the United States has consistently said what the technical requirements are for more than two years and everyone should have known that these are the technical requirements and so it’s a bit of a surprise to me that there is this slowdown right now.”
He also explained that “the debate is who will pay for the conversion because the USA and its contractors Lockheed Martin have to do the work because they’re the ones who own the technology and intellectual property.”
“Well, I’m not involved in the negotiations, and I don’t think they really have a choice because this is intellectual property of Lockheed Martin and they need to give their approval to do the transfer,” the US ambassador told reporters.
Asked whether Israel had withheld information that it had inbuilt its own sophisticated electronic system, Kohorst said: “I don’t know what their negotiation strategy was.” “I’m sure that they in good faith made an offer,” he said and underscored Croatia, the United States and Israel are “great allies” and will resolve this problem.
Israel’s ambassador said that she hoped a positive outcome would be found in the interest of the United States and Israel for the technical problem to be resolved. We are all interested in finding a solution and I’m convinced that it will be so, Ambassador Kleitman said, calling for patience. I hope that everything will be resolved by the end of the year.
Her four-year term expires a month from now.
For more on Croatia’s attempts to buy the fighter jets, click here.