WASHINGTON, 17 October 2012
During his official visit to Washington D.C., Croatian Defense Minister Ante Kotromanović met on October 17, 2012 with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta
The two ministers discussed the U.S. - Croatian strategic alliance in the field of security and defense, the development of Croatia’s defense capabilities, bilateral cooperation in Southeast Europe and in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, namely issues related to the post-2014 timeframe.
Both countries expressed their satisfaction with respect to the agreement regarding NATO’s engagement in Afghanistan after 2014, with the focus of the mission shifting to training, mentoring and financing of Afghan Security Forces, in order for the Afghan Government to gradually assume responsibility for security in the country.
Regarding Southeast Europe, the ministers confirmed the strategic interest of both Croatia and the United States in sustaining the stability and security of the region. The Croatian delegation stressed the importance of further U.S. engagement, while confirming Croatia’s strong support for a Euro-Atlantic perspective for all the countries of the region. Croatia remains committed to providing support and assistance to these countries on their path to Euro-Atlantic integration.
Minister Panetta praised the efforts of the Ministry of Defense in the modernization of Croatia’s Armed Forces in the midst of the financial crisis, as well as those of the Croatian leadership in the process of Euro-Atlantic integration of Southeast Europe, stressing that Croatia is now a mentor and a leader in the promotion of regional initiatives.
Bilateral defense cooperation has been exceptional, manifesting primarily through cooperation in NATO, where the two countries jointly address global security challenges, from the promotion of stability in Southeast Europe to providing security in Afghanistan. Both countries confirmed at the meeting their interest of maintaining and expanding this cooperation. For Croatia, the United States is its main partner in the field of security and defense, which was also reiterated at the meeting.
As part of his visit to Washington, Defense Minister Kotromanović laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington Military Memorial Cemetery.