19:11 / 29.12.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

President suggests someone is trying to block military vehicle deal

President Zoran Milanović speaking in Glina on Wednesday

President Zoran Milanović speaking in Glina on Wednesday

Foto: Igor Kralj / PIXSELL

President Milanović suggested on Wednesday that someone was trying to stop Croatia from accepting an offer from the United States for a fleet of armored transport vehicles at very little cost.

The United States has offered Croatia 84 Bradley M2A2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles under an acquisition program which US officials said provides a cost effective option to meet the country’s NATO target. The offer was initially made in 2017 but according to the US Embassy in Zagreb, it is set to expire soon.

“The United States is giving Croatia $45 million in assistance to help fund the program, and we have extended this offer for as long possible; no further extension is possible after January 2022,” states a fact sheet published on the Embassy’s website.

President Milanović said on Wednesday that he believes the government has been dragging its feet on this offer because someone, who he did not name, has business interests that would be affected if Croatia accepted the deal.

"Strange things are happening. On the one hand, the US is offering us a gift. Someone is systematically trying to ensure this offer is rejected. If our entire army was outfitted with equipment equivalent to the Bradley, we'd be unstoppable. Whoever is obstructing this is committing something similar to the crime of failing to help someone in distress," Milanović said.

The Prime Minister held a meeting Tuesday to address this very question as the end of January deadline for a decision draws closer. Milanović said the meeting went on for three hours and was attended by a large number of people. He did not say who attended the meeting. He finished his remarks with this:

"He should know I'm watching. I'm following this and I know more than he thinks I knows."

According to the US Embassy’s fact sheet, there are other options than the Bradley that meet the NATO capability target but they are more expensive.

“The Bradleys on offer to Croatia meet Croatia’s defense needs and the country’s vital NATO-capability targets,” the fact sheet states.

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