Zagreb - The state secretary at the Defence Ministry said on Thursday, during a parliamentary debate on the sending of Croatian troops to eight peace missions and operations, that "for now" there were no requests that Croatia participates in war operations.
"For now, such pressures have not been expressed, nor requests that we participate in war operations," Branko Hrg said.
We have participated in many peace support missions, we haven't in war missions, and my stand is that we should not in the future either, said Franko Vidović of the opposition Social Democrats group.
The ruling HDZ as well as some opposition groups said they would support sending Croatian troops to peace missions and operations, but Nino Raspudić of the opposition Bridge said Croatia did not have the obligation to send them "everywhere and without explanation." I have the impression that we are uncritically sending people to all sorts of missions, he said, adding that the context of what is happening in Lithuania and Poland is completely different from patrolling the Mediterranean. It is scandalous that we haven't received an explanation of each country's geopolitical context, we don't have a risk estimate nor do we know what our interests are, he added.
Urša Raukar of the opposition Green-Left Bloc said Croatia would spend HRK 128 million on peace missions next year, mostly NATO's, and asked how that reflected on an agreement signed with France, which pushes for more cooperation in EU missions.
Peace missions are not followed by development cooperation, she said. Why are we not present in Libya, given that we have experience in post-conflict transition, she asked, adding that it is wrong to be present in a country only as a military and not for development.
Ante Deur of the HDZ said sending troops to international missions and operations was an important instrument of the foreign security policy whereby Croatia developed its capabilities.
Since 1999, almost 10,000 of our troops have participated in those missions, he added.
Eight peace missions and operations
Under decisions on which parliament will vote tomorrow, up to 200 troops would be sent to Lithuania, up to 90 to Poland, and up to 35 to the Sea Guardian peace support mission in the Mediterranean in 2022 and 2023.
Also, up to three troops would participate in Operation Inherent Resolve, up to ten in NATO's mission to Iraq, and up to three in Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI.
In 2022 and 2023, up to 100 Croatian troops on duty in NATO's Command Structure, Force Structure, and other national and multinational commands could be sent to operations and other activities abroad.
Furthermore, up to three troops would participate in NATO's Allied Solace mission to Kosovo.
In 2022 and 2023, those missions will cost HRK 75 million.
(€1 = HRK 7.5)