The new National Security Strategy and a new Law on National Security System should be ready by April next year. After a public consultation period, they are expected to be debated by government and Parliament in June or July, announced on Monday the Ministry of Defence.
The Ministry pointed out that the current National Security Strategy adopted in 2002 was no longer in line with the current situation, was obsolete and did not provide for quick decision-making and decision-implementation in crisis situations.
The fundamental objective is the redefining of the concept of national security through a new strategy and the new Law on National Security System, which will be in accordance with existing internal, external and other changes and circumstances, and will protect vital national interests, as well as the national territory, promote fundamental values of the Croatian society, and protects safety of all citizens.
The Ministry of Defence emphasized that this was not a partisan issue, since national security requires political consensus of all parties, as well as a wider societal consensus. The new strategy will make a step forward and will include all sectors of the society, because various threats and risks demand “combining” all services and organizations responsible for the security of the state and citizens.
The Ministry expressed its satisfaction that the 2017 state budget will include an increase in the defence budget by 9 percent, to 4.385 billion kuna. The budget allocation will amount to 1.23 percent of GDP and will still be below the NATO requirement of 2 percent, but the Ministry is satisfied with the trend and projections for the next years, which also provide for the growth of the defence budget. Thus, the plan is to increase defence budget to 4.58 billion kuna in 2018. Such an increase would enable the continuation of the process of modernization and equipping, but would also improve working conditions for soldiers, NCOs and officers.
As for the equipment, the Ministry said that the first self-propelled howitzers PzH 2000 should soon arrive from Germany. The planned deadline for that acquisition is 2018. Despite the delay of one year, it is expected the first of five coastal patrol ships for the Navy will be completed. The project of acquisition of the US Kiowa Warrior helicopters was completed a few days ago.
The Ministry also stated that during the next year the decision should be made on the acquisition of new fighter aircraft for the Air Force, to replace existing MiG 21 aircraft, which have been in use since the Homeland War, and which will be out of service by 2024. In 2016, nothing was done about the issue, so the decision should finally be made next year. That is also a nonpartisan issue where consensus is needed because it is a long-term project which will involve subsequent governments as well./IBNA