Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told N1 on Sunday that the United States had been clear from the very start about the technical requirements for the transfer of F-16 fighter jets but that nobody could have predicted the problems that arose between the USA and Israel regarding the matter.
The president dismissed claims that there was a US non-paper warning about possible problems regarding the sale of Israeli F-16 Barak jets to Croatia.
She said that there was only a white paper with US technical instructions for all bids submitted to the Croatian Defence Ministry that referred to originally U.S.-made aircraft.
“I asked (US) Ambassador (Robert) Kohorst very directly if there was the non-paper that has been talked about in Croatia. He told me that technical instructions from the United States, not only in the case of the Israeli bid, but also in the case of the Greek bid, as well as the very US bid that referred to new, F-16 Block 70/72 planes… are interpreted as a non-paper,” Grabar-Kitarovic said.
She noted that the US side had been very cooperative in the process and that it was right to say that it had been clear about the conditions for the transfer of the jets from the very beginning. However, nobody could have predicted the problems that arose between Israel and the USA in the process, she said.
Grabar-Kitarovic stressed that she did not consider the failed purchase of the F-16 Barak planes a diplomatic scandal because Israel had assumed responsibility for obtaining US permission for its deal with Croatia.
Croatia was supposed to buy 12 used F-16 C/D Barak fighter jets from Israel for an estimated HRK 2.9 billion.
The deal definitely fell through after Israel officially informed Croatia that it could not obtain approval from the United States for the delivery of the U.S.-made jets because the United States objected to Israel’s plan to sell upgraded jets.