President Grabar-Kitarović: Croatia Will Stand Firm with USA

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Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović comments on relations with the United States and Russia.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović participated recently in a panel of the Security Forum in Halifax, Canada, where she spoke about the security situation in Europe, strained relations between NATO and Russia, and about the statements of US President-elect Donald Trump on defence spending of NATO members, reports Večernji List on November 30, 2016.

“For now, we do not spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, but we should not be compared with others. It is important that we remain a reliable partner in the alliance and that we invest in defence”, said the President in an interview with Defense News. She explained that, after the Homeland War, Croatia had done a lot to set up a diplomatic network and armed forces. The transition from war to peacetime army and the reduction of large number of troops was not easy, she added.

“Croatia is a small country, in population, geographically, and by GDP per capita, but I think we still contribute to NATO. Most importantly, if the United States ever needs our help, they know that we are always with them side by side”, said Croatian President and confirmed that a contingent of Croatian soldiers would participate in NATO’s response to the build-up of Russian troops on the borders of the European Union. The troops will probably be stationed in the Baltic countries, near the border with Russia.

“We would prefer that it did not come to that, but it did. It seems to me that people are looking for clear and visible signals, and in this case that is the presence of the army in the field. It is important also to have a positive approach to Russia, despite the atmosphere created by the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. We have to convince them that our behaviour is not directed against Russia, but to protect the territory of a NATO member”, said Grabar-Kitarović.

According to the President, Russia has a role in the tensions which are present in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is an unstable country and has still not been fully politically emancipated. The recent referendum in the Republika Srpska was just the first step in a potential series of referendums, including even the one about independence of the Republika Srpska. That would certainly create a possibility for a new conflict, given that Russia is involved in hybrid warfare and there are strong links between Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik and Russia. We would then have the Russian influence through weapons, tactics, intelligence war with information and disinformation”, concluded the President.


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