Croatian Interior Minister, Davor Bozinovic, met with Israeli Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, in Jerusalem on Tuesday, and agreed to strengthen the two countries' bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, including crime prevention and cooperation in search and rescue operations at times of natural and humanitarian disasters.
"Israel and Croatia are turning a new leaf in security cooperation and are raising it to a strategic level," Bozinovic told state news agency Hina after the hour-long meeting, one of the first Erdan has held ahead of the International Homeland Security Forum held in Jerusalem.
Bozinovic told reporters that Croatia and Israel are developing a strategic partnership which was launched during the visit of Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to Israel in January 2017 when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"After that, important things happened in our relations, including the Croatian government's decision to purchase (Israeli) F-16 fighter jets. As for the invitation to take part in the international security forum, which will focus on the fight against terrorism and organised crime, I see it as the confirmation of our good relations, and a confirmation that Croatia plays an active role in international security," Bozinovic said.
In March this year, Croatia decided to buy 12 used and upgraded Israeli F-16 Barak aircraft for about €420 million to replace the outdated Russian-made MiG-21 aircraft currently in use by the Croatian Air Force.
Also announced at the meeting was the forming of joint task forces in charge of implementing cooperation on specific issues such as border control, cyber crime, wildfires, emergency response, and forensics.
According to sources at the Croatian Interior Ministryc cited by Hina, expert services of the two ministries were tasked with revising the existing agreement from 2009 to integrate new priorities in police work. The new agreement will be signed during the return visit which the Israeli minister is expected to pay to Croatia "very soon."
In addition, Croatian forensic experts will visit their Israeli colleagues at the Israeli Forensic Institute, considered to be one of the world's leading centres in forensic science.
The meeting in Jerusalem also focused on ways of preventing radicalisation online and protecting public spaces.