I am confident that this strong partnership will continue with the new administration.
Although my mandate will expire in mid-January, the United States Government and everyone at the Embassy is enthusiastic to bring our relationship to an even higher and stronger level says US Ambassador H.E. Robert Kohorst . “I can say with certainty that the bilateral economic relationship between Croatia and the United States is rock-solid, and it is improving every year”, says Kohorst.
How do you assess the current relations between Croatia and the USA? It seems that after the Secretary of State’s visit to Croatia, these relations are on an upward trajectory. What attracts the most attention are several topics, from the abolition of double taxation, the abolition of visas for Croatian citizens to the procurement of aircraft for the needs of the Ministry of Defense.
What attracts the most attention are several topics, from the abolition of double taxation, the abolition of visas for Croatian citizens to the procurement of aircraft for the needs of the Ministry of Defense.
There can be no doubt that this is a time of great uncertainty, not just for our two countries but indeed across the globe. I am happy to report, however, that our two nations remain among the strongest allies in the world, and I’m confident that our close ties will continue to strengthen and grow in 2021. Prime Minister Plenković and the Croatian team helped us make Secretary Pompeo’s historic visit to Dubrovnik in October an unforgettable success.
I am confident that this strong partnership will continue with the new administration. Although my mandate will expire in mid-January, the United States Government and everyone at the Embassy is enthusiastic to bring our relationship to an even higher and stronger level. My wife and I have been privileged to represent the United States in such a great country as Croatia. We will miss our friends and colleagues here but will take great memories with us back to California.
I can say with certainty that the bilateral economic relationship between Croatia and the United States is rock-solid, and it is improving every year. More than 150 companies with a U.S. nexus contribute to the Croatian economy, including more than 13,000 jobs here in Croatia. Trade in goods and services between our two countries totaled nearly 13 billion Kuna (nearly 2 billion Dollars) in 2019 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. These numbers are expected to drop some in 2020 due to COVID-19, but I am confident that our extensive economic ties will help growth bounce back and continue to increase in the years to come.
I was delighted to announce in October that the refusal rate for Croatian tourist and business visa applicants fell below three percent for the first time this year, one of the most critical and difficult milestones for aspirant visa-waiver countries. This achievement reflects the reality that the overwhelming majority of Croatian travelers to the United States travel well, and we welcome them. Our two governments continue strong cooperation on complex and critical challenges, such as information-sharing agreements, security protocols, and the bilateral air marshals agreement which Minister Božinović and I signed in June. While COVID-19 has complicated the certification process by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, I remain optimistic that Croatians will begin to travel to the United States visa-free in the near future.
After patient and deliberate collaboration between our governments on a double taxation agreement, I was thrilled to present Finance Minister Marić with the draft treaty in September. Since then, negotiations between Croatia and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have proceeded steadily, with strong momentum to sign the treaty in 2021.
Military and defense cooperation between the United States and Croatia is a key pillar of our bilateral relationship, and security continues to be one of our strongest areas of mutual success. The United States provides regular military assistance to Croatia in the form of training, equipment, infrastructure construction (both military and civilian), and specialized military education. Over the past 10 years, our military assistance to Croatia reached approximately four and a half billion Kuna (over 700 million Dollars).
Regarding Croatia’s process of reviewing bids for new fighter jets, we recognize that this a sovereign decision and will respect the outcome. However, it is important to note that the F-16 is the world’s most combat-proven fighter, provides the best value and lowest lifetime cost over its 40-year service life, and is not just an airplane but a partnership with the United States. We would welcome Croatia joining the countries around the world which operate F-16s, including the fleet of more than a thousand F-16s in Europe.