The defence ministers of NATO member countries Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Hungary, signed in Brussels on Thursday a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a multinational training centre based in the Croatian city of Zadar, for the training of helicopter crews for special missions.
"This is a very important day. By signing this memorandum... we are taking an important step in the development of allied defence capabilities," Croatian Defence Minister, Damir Krsticevic, said.
This will be NATO's first international centre in Croatia. The memorandum was signed on the fringes of a meeting of NATO member states' defence ministers taking place in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.
The centre is intended to train of teams specialised for transport of special forces in extremely demanding missions, said NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller.
"This is emblematic of the innovative approach NATO allies and partners are taking as we enhance our collective defence capabilities." Gottemoeller said.
The centre is expected to open its doors by the end of 2019, she said, adding that she was pleased the signatories had shown willingness to open the centre for other allied countries to use.
Krsticevic said that today, "in the era of inter-dependence, co-operative partnership is not a matter of choice but a necessity... We all know that no ally, no matter how powerful and big, can address future challenges alone. The signing of this memorandum symbolises the genuine partnership and unity of the allies, showing that everyone benefits from joint efforts."