Croatia will contribute to NATO's presence in Eastern Europe most probably with one company that will be integrated in a German-Dutch contingent, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who is heading a state delegation attending a NATO summit in Warsaw, said on Friday.
"Talks are still under way, but we will most probably commit a company which would be stationed in Germany and be part of a German-Dutch contingent, which could be deployed somewhere else, depending on the situation," Grabar-Kitarovic said during a break in the summit, noting that she expected a consensus in Croatia on the matter.
"This is an obligation, primarily a moral one, given that as member of an alliance you enjoy certain privileges such as collective defence in this case," she said, adding that the purpose of NATO's presence in Eastern Europe was deterrence.
"I believe that in relation to Russia one should demonstrate strength, determination, unity and solidarity but also be aware of the need to maintain dialogue with Russia about mutual relations, the situation in Eastern Europe, notably Ukraine, and naturally, about the threats we are all faced with on Europe's southern borders such as terrorism, migrations and other forms of instability," said Grabar-Kitarovic.
The Croatian president had a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama during the summit. Commenting on it, she said that she believed they would talk more at a dinner, primarily about security issues and Croatia-US relations.
She noted that Croatia was among countries that were not investing sufficiently in defence and security, recalling that at the last summit in Wales NATO member-countries had pledged not to reduce their defence budgets but rather increase them. This year and in 2015, Croatia reduced its defence budget.
"We pledged.. to increase our defence budget progressively until 2025, until it reaches 2% of GDP. I am glad the current government has undertaken to increase the defence budget as of next year, and I believe all future governments will do so because... we must be prepared and be able to invest in our army... for the sake of protection of Croatia's territory, citizens and borders. Unfortunately, we can see that security threats are multiplying," she said.
During her stay in Warsaw, Grabar-Kitarovic also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Bosniak member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, announcing a trilateral meeting in Istanbul in the second half of July.
"We want to bring there government ministers and a certain number of business people. We want to continue on Mr Erdogan's visit to Croatia when we discussed many concrete projects," she said, mentioning in that context the export of beef to Turkey.
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