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News 03 Sep 14

Croatia Pegs Military Budget For Next Decade

Croatia will retain its current level of military spending at 1.2 of GDP for the next 10 years, the country's defence council has agreed.

Sven Milekic

Croatia's Defence Council on Monday stressed the need to keep the military budget intact over the longer term.

At a meeting on Monday chaired by Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, the Council discussed possible changes and steps towards reforming the military and its budget.

Milanovic said funding for the military would remain at the same level of 1.2 per cent of GDP - which puts Croatia in the middle rank of NATO countries in terms of the level of defence funding.

“We are spending 1.2 per cent of GDP, which ideally would be 2 per cent, but only a small number of countries do this,” Milanovic said.

NATO has advised its members to raise defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP to meet a growing number of challenges, from Russian expansionism to endemic, spreading conflict in the Middle East.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the general secretary of NATO, recently told the Atlantic Council of the United States that NATO's 28 member countries should spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defence.

Currently only the US, Britain, Greece and Estonia do so, though Turkey, Poland, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania have promised to reach that level by 2020.

Also in focus was the state of the Croatian Air Force following a series of recent accidents, blamed in part on low defence spending.

Milanovic stated that Croatia still needs fighter planes, at least "on a symbolic level".

The Council received preliminary results from two independent investigations on the plane crash in August, which triggered renewed debate on the state of the air force.

The first exonerated the military chain of the command from any responsibility in the case.

The other report, on the causes that led to the MiG-21 crash landing, blamed a malfunctioning hydraulics system.

Also up for discussion was discussed was the upcoming NATO summit which opens in Wales in the UK on Thursday.

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