MAY 15 2007 17:26h
Great Serbia may be dead, but the party that promotes the ideology got the majority of votes, said Sanader and stressed NATO's importance.
“Croatia cannot be neutral precisely because of its difficult history. Great Serbia is dead, but the party that promotes this ideology has won the greatest number of votes. Had we been a member of NATO in 1991, no one would have dared to even look at Croatia the wrong way, let alone to destroy Vukovar and other towns,” said the prime minister on the occasion of the anticipated invitation for Croatia to enter NATO, saying that it was time for the Republic of Croatia to come the full circle from freeing the country to the membership in NATO.
To clarify, while visiting command for joint eduation and training “Petar Zrinski” and as part of the lectures of the topic “Current condition and development perspective of the Republic of Croatia,” prime minister Sanader commented on the state of affairs with the neighbouring countries – Serbia, but also Slovenia.
“The travesty of a map that is advocated by a certain part of the Slovenian political scene does not stand a chance of being accepted,” he stressed.
Croatia’s membership in the EU will not be jeopardized
Sanader added that such a current in Slovenian politics could not pose a threat to Croatia’s future membership in the European Union and he mentioned a possible referendum which Slovenians would hold on the issue of Croatia’s membership in the EU.
“I firmly believe that Slovenia will make a good assessment of whom the referendum would do more harm than good,” said the prime minister and continued by saying that he was certain that Slovenian president Janez Jansa did not share these opinions.
Furthermore, the prime minister believes that the problem could easily be solved with arbitration, for which Croatia, according to his words, was actively preparing.
The goal in the European Union’s net
On the issue of Croatia’s advantages as a EU member, the prime minister was very expressive.
“If we are in the audience, we cannot score a goal. If we are on the field, we can score one, but also receive one. This will depend on all our capabilities,” said Sanader, explaining how important it was to take part in making decisions that concerned the European continent instead of standing at the door and waiting for others to make the decision.
Prime minister wants Serbia to prosper
When asked about the stability of the region, where a possible negative response of Serbia to Kosovo’s secession and Seselj’s radicals growing stronger are mentioned as the biggest problem, the prime minister said that he wanted Serbs, as Croatia’s neighbours, to prosper. Sanader, of course, has no intention of supporting the Serbian threat of the independence of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“We want one unified Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia will not support such Serbian threats,” he said.
The decision to buy armoured vehicles
The press asked prime minister Sanader about the decision to buy armoured vehicles worth 200 million euros. The prime minister did not give a clear response. He just said that he would first hear the opinion of the committee on the issue of the bidders to see who was offering the best conditions for the purchase and then he would discuss the matter with president Mesic. If the decision is not made in this term, it will be in the next, said the prime minister.
The membership in NATO also involves Croatian soldiers going on peace missions and that is what worries Croatian citizens, but the prime minister responds that soldiers go on peace missions voluntarily.
“Croatian soldiers are even putting pressure on the army heads for the rotations to be more frequent and for them to go on peace missions more often,” said Sanader.
A more educated army
The preparations for NATO membership also include improving the education of soldiers, who are educated both abroad and in Croatia.
This year, the first generation of soldiers who were educated in keeping with the new model of the civil-military education, which includes the principle of education for life, will come out.
“In this way, the soldiers will also be trained to work in the civilian society even after they leave the army,” added Government vice-president Damir Polancec.
The transformed military system would thus also be attractive to young people, to whom it would offer professional development. The cadet school that is offered now has 187 students, including 37 military pilots.
The preparations for the membership in the aforementioned alliance demand some other changes as well.
“In the course of preparations for the entry in NATO and the EU, the Croatian army is taking many steps. The number of officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers has been reduced, which was too big, and the excess military infrastructure is being abandoned, which was a financial burden to the Defense Ministry,” said general Josip Lucic, citing the active modernization process, which includes a strategic plan of defense and long-term development of Croatian armed forces, as an example.