On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, Croatian Ambassador to the United States, Pjer Šimunović, gave a remarkable presentation on Croatia’s National Security. Ambassador Šimunović discussed the subject: “Croatia’s National Security Reshaped: Countering a Wide Spectrum of Threats.”
In his prologue, Ambassador Šimunović referred to Professor Colin Gray’s article entitled: “The 21st Century Security Environment and the Future of War” (written in 2008-2009). In this article, Professor Gray quotes the Thucydidean triptych which holds that the primary motives behind diplomatic and belligerent behaviors are “fear, honor, and interest.” In the conclusions of his article, Professor Gray mentions that the following challenges are projected to cause issues for the global security: great power rivalry, adverse climate change, resource rivalries and shortages (food, water, energy), overpopulation, disease pandemics, terrorism and insurgencies, nuclear proliferation, and possible global economic instability.
Ambassador Šimunović continued his presentation by explaining the current challenges that Croatia faces. Croatia became a NATO member on April 1, 2009 while it joined the European Union as its 28th member state on July 1, 2013. Being part of the NATO alliance allowed Croatia to cut down on its own defense spending and, at the same time, allow for the build up of smaller military forces ready to deploy for smaller defense issues. Hence, Croatia has contributed to the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), both directly and indirectly.
According to Ambassador Šimunović, although there are many complex issues that Croatia faces today, the general “well-being” of Croatia has never been better. Some of the efforts to which Croatia presently dedicates resources include being vigilant against cyber intelligence propaganda and being watchful for the possible implant of terrorists in the neighboring countries. Further, there are some security concerns as Croatia is a transit country for, possibly, uncontrolled immigration moving through the country to the center of Europe. Ambassador Šimunović raised the point that foreign targets of terrorism in one’s country can eventually increase terrorism in that very country.
The security of South Eastern Europe, in general, safeguards the security of Croatia itself. Ambassador Šimunović stated that tourism is the annual 20% of Croatia’s GDP and that the Croatian administration wants to keep the country safe to expand the economic benefits of tourism. Ambassador Šimunović advocated for structural reforms, investments, economic resilience, and cyber security as a source of wealth. To conclude, Ambassador Šimunović cited President Trump who said that: “Economic prosperity is the national security of a country.”
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD