By joining NATO Croatia had been given the opportunity to discuss key global issues on equal footing with other members, said the Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic at the ninth membership anniversary ceremony held in the parliament on Thursday.
Croatia joined NATO on April 1, 2009. Through their participation in NATO missions, Croatian troops promoted peace and security, said the minister.
“There can be no progress without security. Security is the basic condition of a peaceful development of a society, especially a society with a recent experience of war, such as Croatia,” said the minister, adding that the country would continue to make efforts to gradually increase the defence budget towards the desired target of 2 percent of GDP. Croatian defence budget for 2018 is 1.30 percent of GDP.
Croatia’s contributions in the missions of establishing stability in Afghanistan, where it has been present for 15 years, and Kosovo, meant that the country shared the burden of achieving NATO’s three main goals – collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security, said Vlado Galic, the Croatian President’s advisor on defence and national security.
He dismissed the criticism of the government’s decision to renew the Air Force fleet as wasteful, saying that “it is an investment in our future, with long-term effects for Croatia’s security, foreign political status, and economic and technological development.”
NATO’s chief scientist and head of the NATO Science and Technology Organisation, Thomas H. Killion, was a special guest at the ceremony. He talked about investing in STEM, saying it is crucial for the future of the military.
“What we need are scientists, engineers who will be committed and have the ability to explain to the military personnel how to use that science. We must have scientists, both the civilian and military component together so that we could use science to the benefit of the military industry,” Killion said.