The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin landed in Croatia on Monday evening ahead of a planned meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and wrapped up his official state visit on Wednesday, by joining his host and counterpart at a conference on the Croatia-Israel arms industries.
The Conference of Croatian and Israeli defence industries held in Zagreb on 24 July 2018 was attended by the President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin and the President of the Republic of Croatia and Supreme Commander of the Croatian Armed Forces Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and by the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Damir Krstičević aimed at bringing closer and intensifying co-operation of the Croatian and Israeli defence industries.
According to the official press release by the Croatian Defence ministry, the Conference was also attended by the Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, General Mirko Šundov and representatives of Croatian and ISraeli defence industries, the representatives of the Croatian ministries, the Croatian Chamber of Commenrce, the Ruđer Bošković Institute, the Faculty of Electronic Engineering and Computing and others.
Addressing the conference Croatia’s president noted that the two small states have begun strengthening their bilateral ties on fast pace, highlighting, however, that she hoped this would expand beyond the arms industry into other segments of the economy.
“I strongly believe”, said Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, “that this relationship between our two countries is just the beginning and that there exists an immense potential for further expanding our cooperation. I am also hopeful that our cooperation will expand beyond the arms trade and security sectors to other areas of our economy. However, the arms trade sector will continue to be the primary mover of this new impetus in the years to come.”
President Rivlin reiterated that the State of Israel and the Republic of Croatia shared many things common and pledged support to the development and progress of the Croatian Army.
“Croatia and Israel are small countries but full of energy. This Conference represents our co-operation, trust, friendship and alliance as well as our desire to make the friendship even stronger. We wiish to continue developing defence industry and this is the right opportunity to see the state-of-the-art technology offered by our country; I also have to say that the Israli part is delighted with the Croatian offer too”, said President Rivlin, who extended appreciation to Minister Krstičević for the contribution to the intensidfied co-operation between the two countries. To make our friendship grow, we have to expand our co-operation to other areas too – such as environment protection, research and others. Security and peace must not be taken for granted. Security means absence of violence, defence of borders, sovereignty and territorial integrity; it means the capability to communicate in any conditions, it means assistance in emergency situations on the land, at sea and in the air. Security means co-operation that has to include many areas. Israel wishes to deepen the bilateral co-operation with Croatia. Much has been achieved already but there is still room for progress”, concluded President Rivlin.
During a brief private meeting of the two presidents, Rivlin briefed his hostess on developments in the Middle East, jpost.com reported. “They were then joined in their discussions by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Minister for the Economy Eli Cohen, following which they met the media. Though primarily in Croatia to discuss further military cooperation, Rivlin, could not resist mentioning Croatia’s formidable showing at the recent FIFA World Cup Championships in Russia, where the Croatian squad came second only to France. Rivlin, an avid soccer fan, told Grabar-Kitarović that the whole world witnessed the enthusiasm with which she had supported her country’s team.”
Rivlin also spoke of the growing co-operation between Israel and Croatia, and the two countries’ flourishing economic ties practically emphasising what the Croat president thinks of their bilateral relations on the specific sector.
Last but not least, recently, Zagreb announced the country would buy a number of used F-16 fighter jets from Tel Aviv. The Croatian Defence Minister, Damir Krstičević said that the deal was an opportunity “to work, learn and co-operate with the best”, HRT notes.
Rivlin also commented on the F-16 purchase saying, “Israel is providing Croatia with one of the most sophisticated, advanced and powerful aircraft. We are providing not only aircrafts but also simulators, infrastructure, knowledge and training. We are here to help and to be helped by the Croatian forces, who are the best and most professional, not only in the region, to become even better.”
Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin (L) holding a gun, the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and the Croatian Deputy PM and Defence Minister, Damir Krstičević (R)
Further promotion of bilateral ties
“It is in our interest to promote the relations to a higher level. We hope to see initiatives that will bring investments into our industry and I have the impression that the State of Israel has a future vision of establishing new partner relations”, stressed Grabar-Kitarović.
Minister Krstičević characteristically stated that, “Croatia and Israel share similar experiences of hard-won independence and are therefore aware of the importance of maintaining the readiness of the national states for new security threats. Croatia expects from the the Israeli firms, which belong to the world’s top manufacturers, innovators and comptetitors to invest, transfer the expertise and technology to boost employment and economic growth. Our dream is to see the first two aircraft flown by Croatian pilots on the Croatian skyline in 2020 -the year of the Croatian presidency of the EU coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the military and police Operation “Storm”.
During the visit of the Israeli delegation the two parties also signed the Agreement on Strategic Partnership between DOK –ING and the Israel Aerospace Industries on the production of robotic Unmanned Ground Vehicles, operating in extreme conditions without the risk for the human, which can be used for both civilian and military purposes.
As mentioned in the Croatian press release, the attending firms included the Agency Alan, Šestan Busch, HS Produkt, DOK-Ing, the Aeronautical Technical Centre, the Marine Electronic Centre and CS Computer Systems.
The Israeli firms included the IAI-IsraelAerospace Industries, Elbit Systems,Rafael, IMI Systems – IsraelMilitary Industries, Aeronautics – Defense Systems, Verint Systems and MER Group….. / IBNA
Main Photo: Israel’s Head of State, Reuven Rivlin and the Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović review the honour guard, Zagreb, July 2018