On the occasion of marking the 20th anniversary of bilateral defense cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America through the State Partnership Program with the State of Minnesota, the President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Croatian Armed Forces Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović received the Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton and representatives of the Minnesota National Guard.
During the meeting, the President of Croatia said that two decades of excellent and fruitful bilateral defense cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America testify to the friendship of not just our Armed Forces, but also the mutual friendship between our countries. She added that since the first days of our struggle for independence and freedom, Croatia recognized America as a country we can rely on. “Bilateral cooperation between America and Croatia, which was established in 1995, focused on defense and military cooperation,” stated the President. She added that following the end of our Homeland War, the cooperation gained a significant political extensibility through the contribution of the United States to Croatia’s accession to full membership in NATO and the European Union and through continuous support to strengthening the international importance and reputation of the Republic of Croatia, both in South East Europe and through the U.S.-Adriatic Charter, and in the wider international context.
The President of the Republic especially emphasized the importance of the Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP), which established the United States European Command (USEUCOM) in 1996. This enabled Croatia to use the State Partnership Program (SPP), as well as other high-quality programs of defense cooperation aimed at the reorganization of the Armed Forces and the transformation of the defense system for the needs of membership in the Partnership for Peace, and then full membership in NATO.
Among all the newly established American programs of defense cooperation, the State Partnership Program with the Minnesota National Guard, which began in June 1996, has the pivotal place and role and its greatest proven value is sincere equality between all participants, soldiers, non-commissioned and commissioned officers; mutual trust and mutual respect, regardless of the hierarchical and military level of participants and a variety of contents in Program activities, said President Grabar-Kitarović. “We can proudly say today that over the last twenty years, over 200 bilateral military and civilian expert activities and humanitarian projects have been implemented within the framework of joint activities with the Minnesota National Guard, with the participation of over 3,500 members of the Armed Forces and employees of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia,” emphasized the President.
The President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces awarded the Grand Order of King Petar Krešimir IV with Sash and Star to the Governor of Minnesota Mark Brandt Dayton for his extraordinary contribution to the international reputation and position of the Republic of Croatia and on the occasion of marking the 20th Anniversary of cooperation with the State of Minnesota. Likewise, the Order of the Croatian Trefoil was awarded to Colonel Douglas Faherty and the Order of the Croatian Interlace to Lieutenant-Colonel Ryan Fyrweather for their extraordinary contribution to the development of bilateral defense cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and the United States of America.
“With this decoration, we symbolically express our exceptional appreciation for the mutual friendship and overall support that the United States of America has provided to the Republic of Croatia over the past period and for which we are thankful. Likewise, I emphasize that we turn to the period ahead with optimism and faith, in which we will continue to further advance our cooperation and strengthen the overall relations between our two friendly countries,” stated President Grabar-Kitarović.
foto: from Croatian president webiste