ZAGREB, October 1, 2020 — Croatia is planning to buy brand new fighter jets and has received an offer from the United States to purchase new F-16s. According to the U.S. Ambassador in Croatia, the F-16s are proven to be the best fighter jets in the world. If Croatia opts in, they would be joining “the club” and starting a long-term partnership.
Maintaining Long-Term Partnership with US
The United States is trying to make a deal with Croatia to procure 12 fighter jets. This deal involves the F-16 model, of which there are a thousand in Europe according to Vecernji List.
U.S. Ambassador in Croatia, Robert Kohorst, said in Zagreb on Tuesday, that F-16s are the best fighter jets in the world. He hopes that Croatia will opt for the U.S. offer when they buy new aircraft. Reporters spoke to the diplomat at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, where researchers and students can try out the F-16 simulator until today, October 1.
“We think the F-16 is a great choice for Croatia and we hope that Croatia will choose them,” Kohorst said. The United States is offering a “full package”, according to the Ambassador. He added that the offer is not just about the purchase of planes, but also about “maintaining long-term partnerships”.
Professor Zdravko Terze, the head of aeronautical engineering studies at the FSB, said that it is important that both students and researchers have access to this technology. Terze pointed out that the visit of the American company Lockheed Martin to the faculty was “another confirmation of the excellence of our researchers”.
Croatia Encouraged to Join ‘the Club’
Kohorst continued: “It’s not just about buying a few planes, it’s also about joining the club.”
JR McDonald from Lockheed Martin confirmed that the choice of the F-16 aircraft “offers the possibility of a strategic partnership, not only with the US and NATO, but also regionally”. Croatia would enter “the club” with Bulgaria and Slovakia, who have also decided to go for these fighters.
Kohorst mentioned that the new F-16s are more expensive but will have more value. “They will last longer, will need less maintenance and are the best product you can buy,” he stated.
‘Very Close’ to Visa Exemption for United States
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo is on a European tour, and will visit Croatia tomorrow, October 2. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman will receive him in Dubrovnik. A meeting between Pompeo and Defense Minister Mario Banožić will follow.
They will discuss defense co-operation, F-16 aircraft, double taxation, Southeast Europe and the visa exemption to which we are “very close”, Kohorst said.
Croatia’s condition for the exemption of U.S. visas is less than three percent of rejected visa applications. Kohorst mentioned that they didn’t have an official report on meeting that condition yet, but was “very optimistic” about it.
Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus are the only EU members whose visas have not yet been abolished by the U.S. They excluded Poland from that regime at the end of last year.
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