The Croatian government will procure 12 used French multi-purpose fighter aircraft of the Dassault Rafale F3R type at a price of 999 million euros, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has recently announced as quoted by croatiaweek.
"The government assessed that the offer of France was the best and made a decision on the procurement of 12 multi-purpose fighter planes Rafale, 10 single-seater and 2 two-seater,” Plenković explained.
He added that the selected multi-role fighter aircraft is the latest generation and is considered one of the best in the world.
“The French offer turned out to be the best because for the least money Croatia gets the best rated and equipped plane,” said Plenković, emphasising that the offer is the most favourable and provides the best instalment payment which will not slow down Croatia’s entry into the euro area.
The Prime Minister added that by purchasing fighter jets, Croatia is gaining a powerful strategic deterrent for the next 30 to 40 years, which significantly strengthens its international position, airspace protection and multiplies the overall combat capability of the Croatian Army.
“The purchase of a multi-purpose fighter aircraft will also strengthen Croatia’s position as an ally within NATO and a partner within the European Union. Thus, for the first time, we will reach 2% of GDP allocated for strengthening our defense capabilities, which is the goal of all NATO members,” he said.
The purchase is the largest investment in the Armed Forces since Croatia’s independence.
Croatia's strengthening of its military air force happens at a time when Serbia is boosting frantically its military potential being helped by Russia.
Other smaller countries in the Western Balkans are in process of projects aiming at updating their military arsenal but no one is questioning publicly "Why" as so much noise is being made on EU integration and peaceful projects in the spirit of the 'Berlin Process' which is expected to hold the consecutive Summit in Berlin where it was launched by Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2014.
During May a large scale military exercise
‘Defender Europe 2021' was held in Albania which is a major annual multinational military exercise led by the United States. In Albania, it was launched in a ceremony on May 4, and will last until June.
It has been the largest military exercise in southeast Europe. Its aim: at increasing military cooperation and designed to build strategic and operational readiness and interoperability between US, NATO, and allies and partners.
Exercises this year will be conducted in more than 30 training areas located in more than a dozen countries, with 26 nations participating. More than 28,000 forces have been deployed for exercise in total, and 16 countries will exercise.
Training areas include Albania, the Balkans, the Baltics, the Black Sea and Africa. Albania has offered 7 military bases for the exercise.
In the meantime Serbia and Russia launched joint military exercises near Serbia’s capital on May 20 as the US-led forces were holding the above mentioned massive drills in neighboring Balkan states.
According to the public information of Serbian and Russian defense ministries, the joint training of some 200 special troops included “the destruction of an illegal military formation,” live ammunition shooting and “anti-terrorist” action. The drills lasted through May 25, as the ministries said.
"The exercises at a training ground near Belgrade comes as large-scale US Army-led drills dubbed Defender Europe 2021 are held across Europe, including in most of the nations that neighbor Serbia," noted the Associated Press in its report released on May 20, 2021.
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said as Russian and Serbian soldiers performed during exercise in Deliblatska Pescara, a large sand area, 70 kilometers northwest of Belgrade that Russia is “a great security partner.”
“We are jointly thinking of how to preserve our countries because Serbia and Russia can be broken only from within, not from the outside,” Vulin said.
As it can be witnessed spring 2021 has been a time of the deadly blows of the COVID-19 pandemic under the echo of the noise of the guns of the rivaling forces in action in the Western Balkans.
It seems clearly that the 'Guns & Roses' background is part of the Western Balkans large scene, of this European region known historically as the 'powder keg' of the Old Continent.
Incidentally the people of the regional countries, the poorest in Europe, are in dire need of anti COVID-19 vaccines and instead of the echo and smoke of the guns of the exercises they should have been helped more to survive the deadly hits of the covidian plague, the worst since the end of the World War II, with medications and vaccines./argumentum.al
*The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of “Argumentum”