President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday attended a ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Armed Forces General Staff and said that, considering the numerous, non-traditional security challenges from the east and the south, Croatia needs to further develop existing mechanisms of national security and to establish a single homeland security system.

"Croatia is, both independently and as a member of the European Union and NATO, faced with numerous, non-traditional security challenges from the east and the south. Terrorism, uncontrolled migration, hybrid and cybernetic security threats, foreign aggressive procedures and disrespect of international law and the sovereignty of its neighbours - these are all focal topics of numerous strategic discussions, from the NATO Summit to the UN General Assembly. All expert discussions and adopted documents point to the complex nature of these new threats and the need to set up an efficient response. That response increasingly envisages new tasks for the Armed Forces, including in those areas of action that until now have been exclusively in the remit of civil state bodies. Therefore the Armed Forces need to adapt to new security challenges and to develop the necessary, additional, abilities," the President said.

The President underscored that the main duty of the General Staff is to care for the readiness of the Armed Forces and to be a constant generator of changes. "In times when we are faced with an arc of instability from northern Europe to the Middle East and northern Africa, that is indeed a challenging task. Now is the right time to show expertise and excellence, as the price of failure would be too high," she warned.

She expects initiative and innovative thinking from the General Staff, proposals of new solutions that will facilitate the continual development of the Armed Forces, achieving the abilities necessary to face up to new security challenges and for an effective defence of the country.

In the wider, strategic framework, she underlined that Croatia must define the further development of existing mechanisms of national security and to set up a single homeland security system.

"The migrant crisis, which isn't over yet and is threatening to continue to grow, is just one of the factors that warns of the importance of building a system of homeland security and developing additional abilities to respond to crises in the shortest time possible. Therefore I underline that a discussion on that must not be deferred anymore, not even one day after the new government is formed because we have to make decisions as soon as possible that will ensure efficient protection of national security and state interests," Grabar-Kitarovic said.

She underscored that the battle for independence and freedom was won in 1995 but that the "battles" for Croatia have not ended but have just changed their form and content, seeing that the defence of freedom, independence and sovereignty are a permanent national imperative.

Chief-of-Staff Mirko Sundov thanked all former chiefs-of-staff and members of the Armed Forces, saying that time-wise, 25 years in the history of a nation and an army is not long but that content-wise it was a lot.

He added that Croatia's Armed Forces today are ready to execute any given tasks, adding that Croatia's Armed Forces have been recognised as a reliable partner in UN and NATO missions around the world.

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