The Croatian Defence Ministry on Tuesday said that it expected the Israeli bid for the sale of F-16 Barak fighter jets to Croatia be respected fully and that no other version of the jet would be accepted.
"Croatia insists that what was listed in Israel's bid regarding the F-16 C/D Block 30 Barak fighter jets be respected and the sale of any other version of the jet is impossible," the Defence Ministry told the state news agency Hina regarding the latest hiccup in the procurement of fighter jets for Croatia's air force.
"Croatia conducted a systematic, thorough, and lawful procedure, opted for the procurement of the F-16 multipurpose fighter jet, and fulfilled all its obligations," the ministry said, adding that the process woud continue.
The Croatian government had adopted the decision to purchase twelve F-16 C/D Barak fighter jets from Israel back in March, for roughly 3.1 billion kuna ($477 million). However, the contract on the delivery of the jets has not been signed to this day.
Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said last Friday that Croatia had not received any official notice that the USA was blocking the delivery of the Israeli jets and that he was not familiar with the information published by the media in Israel, according to which US Defence Secretary James Mattis is not allowing Israel to sell the F-16 jets to Croatia.
The F-16s were manufactured by the US company Locheed Martin and, as the original manufacturer which sold the aircraft to Israel, the US must sign off on the deal before Israel can pass them on to a third party.
Israel committed in writing that it would obtain the US government's approval for the delivery of the jets to Croatia and that is Israel's responsibility alone, the ministry said last Friday.
That same day the US Embassy in Zagreb said it was cooperating with Croatia and Israel on finding an acceptable solution to the issue.
The US Embassy also said that it had been cooperating with Israel for more than a year regarding the details of the proposed agreement on the purchase of the jets.