A delegation from Israel is expected to arrive in Croatia on Wednesday in order to clarify exactly what has led to the current atmosphere of confusion regarding Croatia's purchase of a dozen Israeli revamped Barak F-16 multi-purpose fighter aircraft.
Speculation has been swirling for weeks now regarding the 500 million dollar deal as the United States has refused to give the green light for the sale. The United States Department of State holds a veto for any sale of high-grade US-made military equipment to third parties. The US maintains that the F-16's must be returned to their original state - without the costly Israeli upgrades - something Croatia refuses to consider.
Some believe a deal will still be reached; while others have speculated that the delegation is only coming to Croatia in order to apologize for the failed deal face-to-face.
Brigadier Željko Ninić, a member of the commission tasked with acquiring fighter aircraft for the Croatian armed forces, said the situation was far from over.
"We don't have kind of information. A delegation from Israel will be coming here to Croatia. Meetings will take place between top state officials. The goal is obviously to solve this problem and make the existing deal happen. Will there be an apology? I really don't know. Croatia has given Israel until January 11th to officially confirm whether or not they are in a position to deliver the aircraft as defined in their bid from 2017. That's what we are waiting for, and it's only a couple more days. Only after that will we know if the deal has failed or not. Today, I personally would not say the deal has fallen through," said Ninić.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Sunday that the government would like to see the deal completed but added that they could just as easily walk away from it without any financial consequences.
"I'm telling you, the decision was made after detailed analysis and a range of consultations. We, the government and all the relevant ministries, were presented with the deal in its current form and there were assurances given which expressly addressed the so-called 'third party' issue. None of the reservations that are being heard today ever came up during the negotiation process. This situation is not good. At the same time, no damage has been done to the state budget because the contract was never signed. The government merely made a decision to pursue this offer. This means we can just as easily withdraw from the deal," said the prime minister.
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