|Updated: 30-Oct-2006||NATO Speeches|
8 June 2005
Berislav Rončević, Minister of Defence of Croatia
Secretary General, colleagues,
Croatia welcomes the Allies’ decision to meet and consult at the ministerial level with Partner troop contributing nations on developments in Afghanistan.
Since the year 2003 Croatia has participated in the ISAF mission with a contingent of 50 persons in Kabul. In 2004 we sent civilian policemen and one diplomat to Feyzabad. Last year, we sent a Combined Medical Team with Albania and Macedonia to Kabul. A month ago, a Mobile Liaison Observation Team was sent to Chagcharan, and a number of staff officers to Mazar-e-Sharif. Soon, Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams and Infantry Task Forces will be deployed to the area of Mazar-e-Sharif and Meymaneah. By the end of this year we will have 150 members of Croatian Armed Forces in different locations in Afghanistan.
Although our defence system is currently undergoing the biggest reorganisation since the establishment of the Croatian state, we have made additional efforts and deployed our forces to Afghanistan.
Aware of the importance of a successful completion of NATO's mission in Afghanistan, we are committed to increasing our engagement in ISAF. I am convinced it will be confirmed by the Croatian Parliament very soon. We are also considering the possibility of taking over one of the PRTs, either alone or jointly with an Ally. Before taking this commitment we have to analyse the results of our engagement so far, and make a thorough assessment of our capacities.
Croatia has been participating in ISAF even before the beginning of NATO's engagement in Afghanistan. Since then, we have strengthened our cooperation with the NATO member states under whose command our troops operate, as well as our cooperation with partner countries which resulted in the deployment of joint units.
Over time, our contribution has evolved and increased in size. Also, as the ISAF mission evolved, we followed suit with the deployment of a civilian component -diplomatic advisors and police experts. Our contribution in that field has been recognised by the selection of a Croatian diplomat as Political Advisor to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan.
To sum up, Croatia is learning from the experience in ISAF while contributing to its success at the same time. ISAF constitutes a big challenge for our Armed Forces, which are currently leaving their territorial organisation and being transformed into deployable and mobile forces. In this sense, the experience in Afghanistan is valuable to us as a guide of our reform efforts in the right direction.
We are aware that in Afghanistan the reputation and image of the Alliance are at stake, and therefore its further efficacy. Croatia wants be part of Alliance and it is directly interesed for the success of the Mission.
I believe that the effort put into the ISAF mission is worth the while several times over. It is in Croatia's interest, as well as in the interest of all of us in this room, that Afghanistan become and remain a stable democratic state.
Knowing Afghanistan calls for a long-term engagement, we are also determined to support the Central Afghan Government to expand its authority to the overall state territory, so that secure conditions are established for the Afghan people to build their own future, to their benefit and our own.