Croatia–United States relations
|Croatian Embassy, Washington D.C.||United States Embassy in Zagreb|
|Josip Paro||Julieta Valls Noyes|
Croatia–United States relations refer to the bilateral relationship between Croatia and the United States. Diplomatic relations among two countries were established on April 7, 1992 following Croatia's independence from SFR Yugoslavia.
Croatia has an embassy in Washington D.C., general consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and consulates in Anchorage, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Houston. The US has an embassy in Zagreb.
American engagement in Croatia is aimed at fostering a democratic, secure, and market-oriented society that will be a strong US partner in Euro-Atlantic institutions. Bilateral relations between the two countries are described as very strong.
Croatian diaspora in the US is one of the largest in the world with an estimate of more than 1.2 million members. Most of the Croats live in Chicago (~150,000), New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut (~80,000), St. Louis (~40,000), San Pedro (~35,000), Detroit (~7,000) and San Jose (~5,000). The National Federation of Croatian Americans is the main organization that brings together Croats in the US.
Both countries are members of UN, NATO, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization. In addition, Croatia is an observer to the Organization of American States.
The official presence of the US in Croatia began with the establishment of the US Consulate in Zagreb on May 9, 1946. The Consulate become Consulate General on August 1, 1958.
US recognised Croatia as an independent state on April 7, 1992. US Consulate General gained status of an Embassy on August 25, 1992. First US ambassador to Croatia was Peter W. Galbraith who served on this position from 1993 to 1998.
The US Embassy in Croatia is located in Zagreb, southwest of Buzin. This 8000 m² compound was opened on June 2, 2003. According to an article based on the WikiLeaks documents published in a British newspaper The Independent in 2013, the Embassy, namely its fifth floor, is used as a regional base of CIA and NSA.
US embassy in Zagreb is a charter member of the League of Green Embassies and a founding member of the Zagreb Green Building Council. According to this, Embassy support recycling, energy and water use reduction programs. The Embassy also sponsors American Corners at libraries in Osijek, Rijeka, Zadar, and Zagreb.
As of October 5, 2015 US ambassador to Croatia is Julieta Valls Noyes.
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The Republic of Ragusa, a merchant republic centered at the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, was one of the first foreign countries to de iure recognize independence of the United States. Sources differ on when the recognition took place: some travel guides and tourist portals claim that Ragusa was the very first country to recognize the United States as early as 1776, a document whose copy was presented to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in 2006 reportedly puts the date at 1783, while the Council of American Ambassadors claims that the recognition was extended during the term of the second President of the United States, John Adams, thus between 1797 and 1801.
Visits of U.S. Presidents to Croatia
The first U.S. President to visit Croatia was Richard Nixon, who came to Zagreb on 2 October 1970 during his state visit to Yugoslavia. The choice to visit Zagreb during political and cultural developments in SR Croatia that would culminate in the Croatian Spring, along with Nixon's praise for the "spirit of Croatia" and his exclamation "Long live Croatia! Long live Yugoslavia!", has been interpreted as a statement of support for Croatian identity and greater autonomy within the federal framework of Yugoslavia.
The first U.S. President to visit independent Croatia was Bill Clinton on 13 January 1996. Clinton spent a few hours on the Zagreb Airport while returning from visiting IFOR troops in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina. During the brief visit, Clinton gave a speech in front of a crowd waving Croatian and American flags, then met with Croatian President Franjo Tuđman.
On 4 April 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Zagreb on an official 2-day state visit. The visit immediately followed the 2008 Bucharest summit of NATO countries where Croatia and Albania received invitations to join the alliance. Bush met with President of Croatia Stipe Mesić and Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, and gave a speech in St. Mark's Square in downtown Zagreb. Peaceful rallies were held during the visit to protest U.S. foreign policy and impending Croatian NATO membership.
Visit of Hillary Clinton to Croatia
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Croatia on October 30, 2012. During her visit she met with many Croatian officials including President Ivo Josipović, Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić. Main topics of discussions were Croatian role in NATO and the Croatian accession to the European Union as well as economic relations between US and Croatia. Mrs. Clinton called Croatia "a leader in Southeast Europe". She said that Croatia has a good educated workforce, established infrastructure, great geopolitical location and that it is promising destination. She also added that there is a necessity for additional reforms, increment of transparency, elimination of bureaucratic barriers, as well as the privatization of the companies that are still owned by the state.
Visit of Joe Biden to Croatia
On November 25, 2015 US Vice President Joe Biden visited Croatia as a special guest of the Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders' Summit that brings together heads of state from the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania as well as special guests. The summit was co-chaired by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Slovenian President Borut Pahor. Discussed topics on the plenary session were integration of south-east Europe into Euro-Atlantic processes, migrant crisis, security challenges and the fight against terrorism, conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, as well as energy. Vice President Biden stated: "For the United States and for me personally, but I am speaking on behalf of the President Obama, this region has been of extreme interest for the last 25 years." In addition, Biden praised Brdo-Brijuni initiative as "a good job as it has managed to bring together heads of state for talks for the past five years". Vice President Biden also met with the Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović and Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić with whom he talked about situation in the Middle East, especially about the war in Syria, migrant crisis and the security situation in the world after 2015 Paris terrorist attacks.
US is the most important Croatian military partner. The US Department of Defense provides Croatia with military assistance in the form of training, equipment, equipment loans, and education. Intensive military cooperation between US and Croatia started during the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s. Most significant military cooperation between two countries occurred in August 1995 when the US actively participated in the preparation, monitoring and initiation of the last major battle of the Croatian War of Independence, Operation Storm. Croatia so far received around $200 million from US in military assistance out of which $100 million is a value of 212 US MRAP armored vehicles donated to Croatia in 2014.
US and Croatia work together in these 11 military programs, funds and initiatives:
-Croatia received from this program from 2000 until FMF's suspension in 2003 $18.5 million. Once FMF was launched again in 2008 Croatia received addition $14.5 million. Croatia spent this money mostly on purchase of communication systems, simulators and equipment for night surveillance.
- Foreign Military Sales - FMS
-Croatia bought $4.2 billion worth products from this program; flight equipment, communications devices, night vision equipment and software's for Croatia's Main Simulation Centre.
- Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative - GPOI
-Around $5.1 million that Croatia received from this Program was spent for equipping two classrooms for foreign language learning in Knin and Našice, buying navigation equipment and equipment for the night flying, as well as for training helicopter pilots for the night flights.
- Program - article 1206 - Train and Equip
-From this program Croatia received from 2010-2014 $31 million. Whit this money Croatia bought HMMWV vehicles for training, communication and navigation equipment, equipment for night surveillance, labeling and identification of army vehicles and MILES 2000 adjustment system for Croatian VHS-D rifle. In 2015, Croatia received $11 million for purchasing communications equipment and training its special forces.
- The program - article 1202 - Enhanced ACSA (Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreements)
-Through this program US lends its allies that are participating in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq military equipment for a period of approximately one year. Croatia received through this program 50 HMMWV and 12 MRAP vehicles [which Croatia kept as a gift after the end of missions in Afghanistan and Iraq], ballistic missiles and systems for command, control and communication (Blue Force Tracking).
- Excess Defense Articles - EDA
- Coalition Support Funds - CSF
-Through this program Croatia received from the US partial refund of its money invested in ISAF missions in which Croatia participated from 2011 until 2013. $16.9 million were refunded to Croatia. This money will be used for improving maritime radar Enhanced Peregrine.
-Croatia at first participated in this program from 1995 to 2003 when it got banned from participating due to some diplomatic disagreements between US and Croatia. On October 2, 2006 George W. Bush with his decree abolished the restraining Croatia from participating in IMET program "because of the Croatian importance for US national interests". Croatia through the IMET program implemented over 600 activities with costs estimated at about $9 million.
- Cooperative Logistic Support Supply Arrangement - CLSS
-Croatia signed this agreement and become part of the US logistics data base. This agreement enables Croatia to independently buy spare parts for its HMMWV vehicles which wouldn't be possible without this agreement because the only authorized buyer of spare parts for HMMWV is the US and anyone that wants to buy any spare parts has to ask US for permission.
- Man-portable air-defense system - MANPADS
-US donated to Croatia cca. $2 million through this program so Croatia could destroy some of its anti-aircraft systems that are dysfunctional.
- The program of demining and the destruction of surplus munitions
-US donated to Croatia cca. $2.5 million through this program for demining and destroing some Croatian surplus munitions.
Both countries are full members of NATO.
On August 5, 2015 Croatia has held a big military parade, featuring thousands of soldiers, military vehicles and jets, to mark the 20th anniversary of Operation Storm, a key offensive in its independence struggle. USA sent a delegation composed of its top officials: Commander of the Minnesota National Guard, Gen. Richard C. Nash, deputy commander of US forces in Europe, Gen. Randz A. Kee, US Defense Attache Douglas M. Faherty and US Ambassador to Croatia Kenneth Merten.
Economic relations between Croatia and US are very good. In 2013 Croatia exported $327,992.000 worth goods to the US and imported from it $221,794.000 worth goods. US is the most important Croatian trade partner in North America in front of Cayman Islands and Canada, and eight most important in the world.
In 2013, 220,043 Americans, who have made 548,727 overnight stays, came to Croatia on a holiday. The United States and Croatia have a bilateral investment treaty and investment protection agreement.
In addition, United States has given more than $27 million since 1998 in humanitarian assistance to Croatia. The US also has provided additional financial assistance to Croatia through the Southeastern European Economic Development Program (SEED) to facilitate democratization and restructuring of Croatia's financial sector, largely through programs managed by USAID.
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