ZAGREB, September 10, 2020 – President Zoran Milanovic said on Thursday that the American offer for multi-purpose fighter jets should be given priority in principle, although price and expert judgement would ultimately be the decisive factors.
“American aircraft should be the first choice. I say that completely openly. There are many reasons for that — they have donated a lot of equipment to us, they are still donating. I can say this publicly because I am not participating in the procurement,” said Milanovic, asked about the best offer for fighter jets after four countries submitted their bids, and the United States are offering new F-16 Block 70 aircraft.
He underscored that both the price and what is obtained for it will be the decisive factors, and the decision would be made by experts and the government.
“If we have decided to get 12 fighter jets, let us get them. But we need 12 new jets or minimally used, not jets used in war, or in Syria,” said Milanovic.
He also commented on the commission on the purchase of fighter aircraft, saying that some “characters” first decide on procurement and then, in the second phase, give their opinion on what they had previously decided.
“There is a functional dilemma here,” said Milanovic. He especially pointed out the fact that the head of the Security-Intelligence Agency (SOA), Daniel Markic, and Croatian Army Chief of Staff Robert Hranj, who is, he said, a naval admiral, not an expert on aircraft, were members of the commission.
Milanovic said that, for the sake of peace, he would support the work of the commission on the procurement of the jets but that he and his associates would not partake in the decision-making “so they do not give an opinion on something they participated in.”
“That would be a conflict of interest,” Milanovic said.