“By participating in the activities, the Croatian Armed Forces will further increase interoperability with its allies and contribute to strengthening NATO’s deterrence and collective defence,” Minister Banožić said.
At its session held on Thursday, 3 March 2022, the Government of the Republic of Croatia adopted a draft decision to deploy its armed forces in NATO enhanced vigilance activities in Hungary and a draft decision on the participation of up to five members of the Croatian Armed Forces in the EU-coordinated PESCO Cyber Rapid Response Teams (CRRTs) and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security.
The decision on the participation of the Republic of Croatia in the simulation crisis management exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the decision on crossing the border by the Croatian Armed Forces to provide humanitarian assistance in fire safety activities in 2022 were also adopted.
Defence Minister Mario Banožić said that all NATO members, including the Republic of Croatia, are deeply committed to continuing diplomatic efforts to resolve the current situation peacefully and non-violently. It is also clear that NATO is ready to defend all its member states from all threats.
In this context, Mr. Banožić: “NATO member states have decided to significantly strengthen their deterrence and defence capabilities as well as their collective defence capabilities. Therefore, it is necessary to establish additional multinational battlegroups in Southeast Europe – in Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They will operate under NATO’s enhanced vigilance activities as the existing NATO’s enhanced forward presence battlegroups in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.”
Minister Banožić emphasized that the Republic of Croatia had supported the formation of new battlegroups as part of NATO’s enhanced vigilance activities.
Therefore, under the Defence Act, the Croatian Parliament is to adopt a decision to send up to 70 members of the Croatian Armed Forces to Hungary in 2022 and 2023 as part of NATO’s Enhanced Vigilance to join the Hungarian-led battlegroup, with the possibility of rotations.
“By participating in this NATO activity, the Croatian Armed Forces will further develop important capabilities, increase the level of interoperability with the forces of other member states and directly contribute to strengthening the deterrence and collective defence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” he said.
Explaining the Cyber Rapid Response Teams, Minister Banožić said that the Permanent Structure Co-operation (PESCO) was established by a Council Decision on 11 December 2017 with 25 member states participating, together with Croatia.
“The Republic of Croatia participates in the Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security Project. The goal is to strengthen the EU and participating countries’ cyber defence capabilities”, said the Minister.
Cyber Rapid Response Teams are composed of cyber security experts from the countries participating in the Project.
Croatia seeks to further contribute to European and national capacities for cyber resilience and its cooperation with partners under the Defence Act. Therefore, the Croatian Parliament is to adopt the decision to send up to five members of the Croatian Armed Forces to PESCO Cyber Rapid Response Teams and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security.
Minister Banožić also emphasized that regular conduct of simulation exercises is necessary to achieve and maintain crisis management capabilities, which is one of the three main tasks of NATO.
Explaining the decision on crossing the border by the Croatian Armed Forces to provide humanitarian assistance in fire safety activities, Minister Banožić stressed that providing humanitarian aid abroad is a constitutional task of the Croatian Armed Forces.
“This decision approves the engagement of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Croatia for fire protection tasks abroad in 2022 and the use of the Croatian Air Force aircraft,” Mr. Banožić said.