PM Plenkovic and Pence discuss defence cooperation, 3 Seas' Initiative benefits

Photo /Vijesti/2017/08 kolovoz/2 kolovoza/Podgorica.jpg

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence held talks on bilateral relations, defence cooperation and benefits of the Three Seas' Initiative involving 12 countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas, and the talks took place on the margins of a summit meeting of the US-Adriatic Charter in Podgorica on Wednesday.

"We have talked about the Croatia-USA relations, our cooperation in the defence sector and the benefits for economic and energy cooperation within the framework of the Three Seas' Initiative," Plenkovic told the press after the talks with Pence.

"I have invited Pence to visit Croatia next time he arrives in Europe," the premier said.

In connection with a state of affairs in Croatia's armed forces, Plenkovic said the defence budget would be increased for the purpose of enhancing security capacities and to this end, new combat aircraft would be considered.

"Thus, Croatia is a reliable member of NATO and cares for its security."

Croatia also plays an important role in the support provided to other countries and in engagement in many peace missions, he added.

"Croatia is taking part in the NATO-led missions in Poland and Lithuania and we are engaged in the mission in Afghanistan and in the international coalition against terrorism and the Islamic State. This speaks of compatibility of our objectives and excellent partnership and cooperation with the USA," he said.

Concerning Pence's European tour which started in Estonia and continued in Georgia and Podgorica as the last stop, Plenkovic said that the U.S. Vice President had conveyed a message of the strong American commitment to security in Europe.

The Podgorica summit was an occasion for the talks on NATO membership bids of some of the Southeast European countries, according to Plenkovic.

The summit, hosted by Montenegro and Macedonia, the current chair of the US-Adriatic Charter initiative, was attended by Plenkovic and Prime Ministers, Edi Rama of Albania, Ana Brnabic of Serbia, Denis Zvizdic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.

The US-Adriatic Charter initiative was launched in 2003 by Croatia, Albania, Macedonia and the United States to provide support to countries aspiring to join NATO. The initiative, also known as A5, was later joined by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which was recently admitted to the alliance.