President and Military Leadership Discuss the Future of Croatian Air Force

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Does Croatia have enough money to keep its Air Force?

During the first day of her visit to Zadar County, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović visited the Air Force Base in Zemunik, where she said that Croatia needs to maintain combat aircraft capability, since it has a tradition and it is also a question of sovereignty, reports Večernji List on April 6, 2016.

At a meeting with Defence Minister Josip Buljević, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Mirko Šundov and director of the Military Security and Intelligence Agency General Ivica Kinder, the President spoke about preparation for the forthcoming firefighting season and the readiness level of Croatia’s combat air force and air defence. “I am satisfied with what I have heard here, but a lot depends on the responsibility of citizens and on the weather. I am convinced that Croatian skies are under control”, said the President.

When asked whether new fighter planes would be purchased, the President replied that this was “a strategic decision that we have to make together”. “My position has been well-known for a long time, I think we need to keep the combat aircraft capability. Croatian sky is safe, but the fact is that there is a tradition of combat air force. The potential loss of a generation of pilots if we were to give up on combat aircraft would not be good, since as we all know the threats in the world are changing so fast that we should ensure that the Croatian Armed Forces are secure, ready, well-trained and staffed, regardless of the fact that we are a member of NATO”, said the President.

She stated that the decision should be made responsibly and with taking into consideration all options and needs – budgetary and all others. “I think it is time to finally start working on a new national security strategy that we have not had for years. In the meantime, we have entered the EU and NATO. This is not a question for one person, but rather a strategic decision for the whole state leadership, accompanied by a public debate”, said Grabar-Kitarović.

When asked whether they discussed the issue of MiGs which were refurbished in Ukraine and if she knew how the investigation was proceeding, she said that “at this point there is no need to talk about the investigation”, adding that they discussed just the technical aspects. “When it comes to the investigation, you should ask the competent authorities because I am waiting for the results of the investigation”, added the President.

Defence Minister Josip Buljević briefly said that the investigation was “in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office and that military police and military intelligence agency are cooperating with them”. Asked whether there might be prosecution of members of the former government, the Minister said: “It is hard to talk about it, but whoever is guilty will be prosecuted”.


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