ZAGREB, May 28, 2018 – Top state officials on Monday attended a ceremony marking Croatian Armed Forces Day and underscored the importance of the defence system for stability in a changing security environment and underlined it was necessary to further modernise the army and strength the military industry which is 98% export orientated.
“The armed forces have to be an example to the entire society of how to be freed of old patterns of nepotism and inequality in circumstances that are thwarting our country’s development,” President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said at the ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of the formation of the Croatian Armed Forces.
Honouring the glorious past of the armed forces, the creation of the Croatian state and struggle for freedom and territorial integrity, Grabar-Kitarović underscored the need to build a system which would motivate young people to stay in Croatia and its army, and which would value and award excellence and patriotism. She called for a better homeland security system that would be able to respond to various challenges in a contemporary and changing security environment.
The president said it was impossible to have effective armed forces without increasing investments in defence, recalling that the government had increased defence allocations with a clear vision of achieving obligations taken on and achieving defence spending of 2% of GDP.
“As a society we have realised that defence expenditure doesn’t mean unnecessary costs but investing in our security future,” she said and underscored that large modernisation projects that had for decades been proclaimed as unattainable are about to be realised.
Over the past few years, we have finally moved on from words to action with regard to caring for people as the greatest value in the army, the president said. She said that the necessary material preconditions will be established to continue building a system that will recognise effort, excellence and patriotism in the Armed Forces. She added she expected generals and admirals to motivate excellence in soldiers and officers as the only criterion for promotions and success in military careers.
Addressing the audience, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković underscored that the government had fulfilled all its strategic obligations in the area of defence and security. “We adopted a new homeland security strategy and law on homeland security and for the second time in row, we increased the defence allocation in the budget which is now at a level of 1.34% of GDP with a tendency of increasing,” the prime minister said.
He said that investments were being made in the quality of life of Croatian soldiers, in equipment, modernisation and raising the standard of living of everyone working on protecting national interests. “We are convinced that this is the best way to strengthen our security and our international status,” Plenković underscored.
He in particular commended the decisions made by Defence Minister Damir Krstičević who is working on having the Croatian Army re-established in Croatian towns which will involve the reconstruction of army barracks in those cities.
Speaking about the strategic decision to procure F-16 Barak fighter jets, the prime minister stressed that this will change the nature and strength of the Croatian army in the long term and enable us “to be an important stakeholder in Southeast Europe and a reliable ally within the framework of NATO and a partner within the framework of the EU.”
Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković said that “created in the Homeland War and developed in peace, the Croatian Armed Forces were always prepared to protect Croatia’s sovereignty, independence, territorial wholeness and provide assistance to its residents in various cases of natural disasters.” He too, similarly to the president and prime minister, underscored that the readiness of Croatian soldiers had been recognised outside Croatia, among allies and through international peace operations.