21:50 / 24.11.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

French President arrives to cement new strategic partnership with Croatia

Emmanuel Macron and Andrej Plenković

Emmanuel Macron and Andrej Plenković

Foto: Igor Kralj / PIXSELL

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Zagreb on Wednesday to sign a strategic partnership and a 999 million euro deal on the procurement of Rafale fighter jets.

In what is the first official visit of a French president since Croatia's independence, Macron will meet with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Zoran Milanović on Thursday.

“We are pleased to host Emmanuel Macron, who is on his first official visit to Croatia. We want to strengthen the partnership between Croatia and France and create the preconditions for increasing economic cooperation and trade. Croatia appreciates France's support on the road to Schengen and the Eurozone,” Plenković tweeted, shortly after Macron’s arrival at Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman Airport on Wednesday evening.

Macron has arrived with a large delegation that includes Defense Minister Florence Parly. He will attend a working dinner with Plenković and other officials ahead of a packed schedule on Thursday that will culminate in the singing of the Rafale agreement.

Earlier on Wednesday Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s Government gave the final green light for the signing of the agreement to purchase 12 French Rafale jets. The two countries will also be signing a new strategic-partnership agreement. Besides strengthening Croatia’s military capabilities, these agreements will forge a new chapter in relations between the two countries, Plenković said.

"A strategic partnership means strong support from one of the most influential countries in the world, not just in the EU. It is an opportunity for economic and cultural cooperation as well as political dialogue, but above all, it signals strong support for Croatia's aspirations to become part of the Schengen Area and the Eurozone,” said Plenković.

Eight Rafale planes are due to arrive in 2024 and another four the following year. They will replace Croatia’s outdated MIGs. The 999 million euro price tag includes pilot training, simulators, weapons and a one-year guarantee.

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