Rear Admiral (UH) Ante Urlic—Croatian Navy
The present global economic situation clearly shows that even those countries with the most secure financial sector and highest standard of living are not immune to the crisis that has hit the world economy. This is reflected in the situation in my country, which is still recovering from the events that took place in the late 20th century. In early 2009, all aspects of society in the Republic of Croatia began to feel the consequences of the global economic crisis. Needless to say, the crisis has had a great impact on the national defense system, whose budget is directly linked to the country's economic situation. Given that state revenues have not increased as planned, the allocated national defense funds had to be reapportioned.
In response, the Croatian Navy has taken steps to reduce operating costs and to review priorities in acquisition and modernization projects without putting our combat readiness in jeopardy. Because of limited funds, we have put the focus on preparing our personnel to participate in international military operations, on training aimed at implementation of maritime force goals, on achieving NATO standards, and educating our personnel in this country and abroad. I must point out that last year we made great efforts in developing antisubmarine warfare capabilities, which allowed us to regain an undersea surveillance capability. We did not stop acquisition and modernization processes set out in relevant strategic documents, but priority has been given to projects that affect the quality of task accomplishment at sea. This primarily refers to the plans of building a new coastal patrol vessel for the republic's coast guard.
Moreover, a revision of strategic documents is under way to continue the transformation of the national defense system. The revisions will foster the development of effective responses to modern security challenges, thus creating conditions for our active involvement in the systems of collective defense and cooperative security with both NATO and the European Union. The participation of the Hrvatska Ratna Mornatica in international maritime operations means improving NATO procedures, adopting NATO standards, and cooperating with partners, all of which supports our full integration into NATO.
Regardless of the economic crisis, I believe the security challenges that globalization itself inevitably brings must not jeopardize the protection of national interests. This particularly relates to the sea, which is one of the most important resources for countries like the Republic of Croatia. Therefore, in accordance with the economic capabilities and defined priorities, it is necessary to maintain and develop the abilities of the Croatian Navy as a key factor in the world's maritime security.
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