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News 26 Jan 17

Reviving Military Conscription ‘Unrealistic’ for Croatia

Despite speculation that the country will reintroduce compulsory military service, logistical issues and a lack of funds mean this is impractical, a Croatian military analyst argued.

Sven Milekic
Croatian soldiers at a parade. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Branko Radovanovic

Recent media reports have suggested that Croatia plans to reintroduce conscription to the armed forces, but military analyst Igor Tabak told BIRN that the idea was not realistic for logistical and financial reasons at the moment.

Croatia suspended - and de facto abolished - compulsory military service in 2008, although people can still do a 14-week-long voluntary stint in the army.

Tabak, an analyst from expert website Obris, said that bringing back conscription was “an idea that can be heard now and then from some politicians”, but the suggestion was impractical.

“Something which is not mentioned a lot is a fact that the majority of the facilities in Croatia where people served their compulsory military service aren’t in the [state’s] defence system anymore. They were often given to local authorities, so there is no infrastructure that could just be put to use,” he argued.  

He also explained that Croatia “changed its standards regarding arms and equipment”, shifting from Eastern European arms to Western types, and therefore doesn’t have enough guns to supply conscripts.

He also said argued that because Croatia has serious problems financing its defence and military, it should finance and equip its military reserve units before spending funds on reintroducing compulsory military service.

“Also, conscripts aren’t mentioned in any of the strategic defence documents, the state budget or drafts of future state budgets,” he said.

Tabak said that no one had worked out how conscription would be reintroduced and how much it would cost, noting that compulsory military service was suspended in 2008 because it was “highly ineffective”.

He concluded that reintroducing conscription would require “a lot of preparation, organisation and money”.

Croatian private station Nova TV reported on Tuesday that the defence ministry was working on a study about reintroducing military service, but there was no official confirmation of this.

As reintroducing full-scale conscription would cost between 40 and 65 million euros annually, according to former Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic, Croatian daily newspaper 24 sata reported sources from the defence ministry as saying that a two-month compulsory service would be launched – teaching the people the basics – which would be significantly cheaper.

In 2015, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic expressed a desire to reintroduce compulsory military service for a period of eight weeks.

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