Croatia can be proud of its defence industry and the progress it has made, Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic said at a Croatia-USA defence forum in Zagreb on Wednesday, according to a statement from the ministry.
The event was organised with the aim of encouraging further economic cooperation and relations between the USA and Croatia in the defence and security sector.
"Croatia is turning resolutely to the future in terms of state policy, research and economy. We are particularly proud of the Croatian defence industry and the progress it has made," the minister said, citing in that context the UTILIS company, which was granted co-funding by the European Structural and Investment Funds for a HRK 4.5 million project which the European Defence Agency has called the first full defence project to be awarded money from the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Krsticevic said that the EU and Croatia were strategic partners to the USA, noting that Croatia-USA defence cooperation was strong, constant and very concrete, as evidenced by numerous US donations of various military and other equipment in the last 20 years.
The Croatian-US defence forum was organised by the American-Central European Business Association and the Croatian Defence Industry Competitiveness Cluster, in cooperation with the US Embassy, the Defence Ministry and the Zagreb Innovation Centre.
The event was also attended by US Ambassador Robert Kohorst and Croatia's Ambassador to the USA, Pjer Simunovic.
Ambassador Kohorst said that over the past decade the USA had invested more than $600 million worth of assistance in Croatia's defence sector, adding that he looked forward to the further development of Croatia-USA relations.