Office of the Spokesperson
The following is the text of a joint statement by the United States of America and the Republic of Croatia on the occasion of the U.S. Croatia Strategic Dialogue.
The Governments of the United States and Croatia held a Strategic Dialogue in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 2022, which underscored the deepening cooperation between the United States and Croatia and sets the vision for our shared goals of promoting peace, security, and prosperity in both Europe and globally.
The Strategic Dialogue comes as the United States and Croatia mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Director for Political Affairs Petar Mihatov and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Dr. Karen Donfried led the Strategic Dialogue, which included discussions on six key pillars of the bilateral relationship: Global Issues, Defense and Security, Energy and Climate Change, Regional Cooperation, Trade and Investment, and People-to-People Ties.
The United States and Croatia committed to work together to advance shared foreign policy goals, intensify bilateral cooperation and strengthen the Transatlantic bond. They also committed to promote democracy, rule of law, and fundamental human rights both regionally and globally, building on pledges made during President Biden’s Summit for Democracy in December 2021. The United States and Croatia underscored their strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called on Russia to cease its unprovoked war. They underscored a joint desire to defend the common values of the Euro-Atlantic community and stressed the importance of preserving the rules-based international order, supporting good governance, and protecting democratic societies. The United States welcomed Croatia’s entry as the 40th member of the Visa Waiver program and affirmed Croatia has made great progress toward becoming a partner country in the Global Entry Program. The United States welcomed Croatia’s commitment to fully empower a Holocaust envoy with a view to intensifying dialogue on all related issues, including property wrongfully seized during the Holocaust.
Defense and Security
As NATO Allies and strategic partners, the United States and Croatia underscored their commitment to promoting peace and stability in Southeast Europe and Europe as a whole. Both sides emphasized the continued importance of developing high-end defense capabilities, conducting bilateral exercises and training activities to improve interoperability and readiness, and the importance of meeting NATO commitments in support of our collective security. The United States and Croatia reaffirmed that the most recent cooperation resulting in Croatian procurement of M2A2 Bradley vehicles is a significant step toward meeting one of Croatia’s priority NATO Capability Target requirements. The two countries intend to work closely on the future Strategic Concept of NATO, with a view to strengthening the Alliance in fulfilling its mission as the guarantor of peace and security in Europe. Both parties underlined the importance of EU-NATO cooperation, ensuring complementarity and strengthening interoperability, and recognized NATO as the foundation of Euro-Atlantic security and the essential forum for collective defense of the transatlantic community. The United States and Croatia underscored the importance of cybersecurity and intend to look to strengthen cooperation in this field.
Energy and Climate Change
The United States and Croatia recommitted to their shared goals of increasing energy diversification and security and tackling climate change through decarbonization and clean energy policies, as well as the adaptation of our societies to climate change. The United States lauded Croatia for its leadership on energy diversification through the opening of the floating liquefied natural gas terminal off Krk island and noted the shared goal that Croatia support energy diversification for the broader region through projects like the Southern Connector to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The two sides explored opportunities for strengthening cooperation in renewable energy production and distribution. Croatia reiterated its commitment to phase out coal by 2033, and the United States praised Croatia’s goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and join the Global Methane Pledge. Both sides committed to deepen bilateral and regional cooperation on energy and climate through the Partnership for Transatlantic Energy and Climate Cooperation (P-TECC).
The United States and Croatia emphasized their joint commitment to advance the Euro-Atlantic perspective of the Western Balkans countries, and to see Croatia’s neighbors firmly anchored in a Europe free, whole, and at peace. The United States and Croatia recognized that the countries of the Western Balkans must meet the strict criteria to join the EU and NATO while underscoring that the door to these organizations must remain open and viable to incentivize necessary reforms to promote lasting stability and security. The United States and Croatia concurred on the importance of preserving the stability and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the need to secure electoral and limited constitutional reforms aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination and ensuring the equality of three constituent peoples and rights of all citizens. They also concurred on the need to eliminate fraud, corruption, and pressure on voters, and to ensure election outcomes reflect the will of the people. The United States and Croatia highlighted the importance of Western Balkans countries resolving near-term legacy and open issues as an essential step on their Euro-Atlantic path. The United States thanked Croatia for its leadership on joint efforts to fight corruption and protect the rule of law through the INL-funded Department of Justice law enforcement educational partnership and prosecutor training in the Western Balkans.
Trade and Investment
The two sides reaffirmed their shared commitment to broaden and deepen bilateral economic and commercial cooperation, expressing satisfaction with reaching a final stage of negotiations and recognizing the desire for a swift conclusion of a treaty for the avoidance of double taxation. They shared ideas on increasing trade and investment across various sectors. The United States welcomed Croatia’s invitation to begin the accession process to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Croatia and the United States exchanged ideas and concrete plans for intensifying cooperation taking into account the growing urgency for development and humanitarian aid for countries in need.
The United States and Croatia share extensive and meaningful people-to-people connections that promote mutual understanding between the people of both nations. Both countries remain committed to expanding educational, cultural, and professional exchange opportunities, including through the Fulbright Program. The two sides look forward to collaboration on STEM programming and enhanced connections between U.S. and Croatian universities.
- Release of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy-Republic of Korea New Southern Policy Joint Fact Sheet
November 14, 2020
- New York Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Exotic African Cats
April 27, 2021More from: April 27, 2021 [Read More…]
- Secretary Blinken’s Call with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov
February 15, 2022
- Disqualification of Pan-Democratic Lawmakers in Hong Kong
November 12, 2020Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
- Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and Interagency Coordination for the Commander’s Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan
August 24, 2021U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have spent billions of dollars to develop Afghanistan. From fiscal years 2004 to 2008, DOD has reported obligations of about $1 billion for its Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP), which enables commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian and reconstruction needs. As troop levels increase, DOD officials expect the program to expand. Under the authority of the Comptroller General, GAO assessed DOD’s (1) capacity to manage and oversee the CERP in Afghanistan and (2) coordination of projects with USAID. Accordingly, GAO interviewed DOD and USAID officials, and examined program documents to identify workload, staffing, training, and coordination requirements. In Afghanistan, GAO interviewed key military personnel on the sufficiency of training, and their ability to execute assigned duties.Although DOD has used CERP to fund projects that it believes significantly benefit the Afghan people, it faces significant challenges in providing adequate management and oversight because of an insufficient number of trained personnel. GAO has frequently reported that inadequate numbers of management and oversight personnel hinders DOD’s use of contractors in contingency operations. GAO’s work also shows that high-performing organizations use data to make informed decisions about current and future workforce needs. DOD has not conducted an overall workforce assessment to identify how many personnel are needed to effectively execute CERP. Rather, individual commanders determine how many personnel will manage and execute CERP. Personnel at all levels, including headquarters and unit personnel that GAO interviewed after they returned from Afghanistan or who were in Afghanistan in November 2008, expressed a need for more personnel to perform CERP program management and oversight functions. Due to a lack of personnel, key duties such as performing headquarters staff assistance visits to help units improve contracting procedures and visiting sites to monitor project status and contractor performance were either not performed or inconsistently performed. Per DOD policy, DOD personnel should receive timely and effective training to enable performance to standard during operations. However, key CERP personnel at headquarters, units, and provincial reconstruction teams received little or no training prior to deployment which commanders believed made it more difficult to properly execute and oversee the program. Also, most personnel responsible for awarding and overseeing CERP contracts valued at $500,000 or less received little or no training prior to deployment and, once deployed, received a 1-hour briefing, which did not provide detailed information on the individual’s duties. As a result, frequent mistakes occurred, such as the omission of key clauses from contracts, which slowed the project approval process. As GAO has reported in the past, poorly written contracts and statements of work can increase DOD’s cost risk and could result in payment for projects that do not meet project goals or objectives. While mechanisms exist to facilitate coordination, DOD and USAID lack information that would provide greater visibility on all U.S. government development projects. DOD and USAID generally coordinate projects at the headquarters and unit level as well as through military-led provincial reconstruction teams which include USAID representatives. In addition, in November 2008, USAID, DOD and the Department of State began participating in an interagency group composed of senior U.S. government civilians and DOD personnel in Afghanistan to enhance planning and coordination of development plans and related projects. However, complete project information is lacking, because DOD and USAID use different databases. USAID has been tasked to develop a common database and is coordinating with DOD to do so, but development is in the early stages and goals and milestones have not been established. Without clear goals and milestones, it is unclear how progress will be measured or when it will be completed
- Depot Maintenance: Improved Strategic Planning Needed to Ensure That Army and Marine Corps Depots Can Meet Future Maintenance Requirements
August 24, 2021The Army and Marine Corps maintenance depots provide critical support to ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and are heavily involved in efforts to reset the force. The Department of Defense (DOD) has an interest in ensuring that the depots remain operationally effective, efficient, and capable of meeting future maintenance requirements. In 2008, in response to direction by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Army and the Marine Corps each submitted a depot maintenance strategic plan. Our objective was to evaluate the extent to which these plans provide comprehensive strategies for meeting future depot maintenance requirements. GAO determined whether the plans were consistent with the criteria for developing a results-oriented management framework and fully addressed OSD’s criteria.The depot maintenance strategic plans developed by the Army and Marine Corps identify key issues affecting the depots, but do not provide assurance that the depots will be postured and resourced to meet future maintenance requirements because they do not fully address all of the elements required for a comprehensive, results-oriented management framework. Nor are they fully responsive to OSD’s direction for developing the plans. While the services’ strategic plans contain mission statements, along with long-term goals and objectives, they do not fully address all the elements needed for sound strategic planning, such as external factors that may affect how goals and objectives will be accomplished, performance indicators or metrics that measure outcomes and gauge progress, and resources required to meet the goals and objectives. Also, the plans partially address four issues that OSD directed the services, at a minimum, to include in their plans, such as logistics transformation, core logistics capability assurance, workforce revitalization, and capital investment. Army and Marine Corps officials involved with the development of the service strategic plans acknowledged that their plans do not fully address the OSD criteria, but they stated that the plans nevertheless address issues they believe are critical to maintaining effective, long-term depot maintenance capabilities. The Army’s and Marine Corps’ plans also are not comprehensive because they do not provide strategies for mitigating and reducing uncertainties in future workloads that affect the depots’ ability to plan for meeting future maintenance requirements. Such uncertainties stem primarily from a lack of information on (1) workload that will replace current work on existing systems, which is expected to decline, and (2) workload associated with new systems that are in the acquisition pipeline. According to depot officials, to effectively plan for future maintenance requirements, the depots need timely and reliable information from their major commands on both the amounts and types of workloads they should expect to receive in future years. Depot officials told us that the information they receive from their major commands on their future workloads are uncertain beyond the current fiscal year. Officials cited various factors that contribute to these uncertainties, such as volatility in workload requirements, changing wartime environment, budget instability, and unanticipated changes in customer orders. In addition, depot officials said that they are not involved in the sustainment portion of the life cycle management planning process for new and modified systems. No clear process exists that would enable them to have input into weapon system program managers’ decisions on how and where new and modified systems will be supported and maintained in the future. Unless they are integrated in this planning process, these officials said, the depots will continue to have uncertainties about what capabilities they will need to plan for future workloads and what other resources they will need to support new and modified weapon systems.
- Revocation of the Terrorist Designations of Ansarallah
February 12, 2021
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks at Top of Meeting with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell
October 14, 2021
- Doctor Sentenced for Role in Unlawful Distribution of Opioids
February 8, 2021An Ohio physician was sentenced to two years in prison today for his role in illegally distributing opioids.
- Financial Audit: Office of Financial Stability’s (Troubled Asset Relief Program) FY 2021 and FY 2020 Financial Statements
November 10, 2021What GAO Found GAO found (1) the Office of Financial Stability’s (OFS) financial statements for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as of and for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2021, and 2020, are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles; (2) OFS maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting for TARP as of September 30, 2021; and (3) no reportable noncompliance for fiscal year 2021 with provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements GAO tested. In commenting on a draft of this report, OFS stated that it is proud to receive an unmodified opinion on its financial statements and its internal control over financial reporting. OFS also stated that it is committed to maintaining the high standards and transparency reflected in these audit results. Why GAO Did This Study The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) that authorized TARP on October 3, 2008, includes a provision for TARP, which is implemented by OFS, to annually prepare and submit to Congress and the public audited fiscal year financial statements that are prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. EESA further states that GAO shall audit TARP’s financial statements annually. For more information, contact Cheryl E. Clark at (202) 512-3406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, and Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton At a Joint Press Availability
September 16, 2021
- Arkansas Landscaper Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud
September 15, 2021An Arkansas resident pleaded guilty today to filing a false corporate tax return.
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to the Press En Route Melbourne, Australia
February 9, 2022
- Innovative Next Steps in the Global COVID-19 Response
November 10, 2021
- Justice Department Awards More Than $110 Million to Support Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
December 22, 2021The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) today announced awards totaling more than $110.7 million to reduce recidivism and support adults and youth returning to their communities after confinement.
- United States and ASEAN: A Billion Futures Across the Indo-Pacific
November 15, 2020
- Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Payment Processing Fraud Scheme
October 13, 2021A Florida man pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with a scheme to deceive banks and credit card companies into processing credit and debit card payments on behalf of merchants involved in prohibited and high-risk businesses, including online gambling, debt collection, payday lending, and prescription drugs.
- Statement of Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen on the Death of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick
January 8, 2021Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen issued the following statement:
- Wisconsin Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking Adult and Minor Victims
February 18, 2022Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke and U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea of the Western District of Wisconsin, today announced the conviction of Cory Hereford, 50, of Beloit, Wisconsin, on charges of sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, maintaining a property for the purposes of distributing and using controlled substances, and of having committed sex trafficking of a minor while being a person previously convicted of a crime that required registering as a sex offender.
- Coast Guard Health Care: Improvements Needed for Determining Staffing Needs and Monitoring Access to Care
February 4, 2022What GAO Found The U.S. Coast Guard (Coast Guard) staffs its clinics and sickbays with Coast Guard enlisted personnel and officers, who primarily serve as health service technicians and physician assistants, as well as with U.S. Public Health Service officers, including physicians and dentists. In addition, the Coast Guard uses a contract to fill some of its vacancies and augment other health care staff roles. As of July 2021, Coast Guard data show the service had 1,022 Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and contracted health care staff serving its health services program of clinics and sickbays. U.S. Coast Guard Health Care Staff by Source, as of July 2021 Note: U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps are public health professionals that serve in federal agencies. The Coast Guard generally fills positions for its clinics and sickbays based on historical staffing levels. However, the current staffing approach does not address surge deployments of health care staff for missions away from clinics, such as to respond to hurricanes. Deployments have nearly quadrupled from 4,111 days in 2018 to more than 16,000 days in 2021, according to the service’s data. Coast Guard officials expressed concern with difficulties in maintaining already burdened clinic operations when health care staff are deployed, which can result in clinics deferring services. Implementing staffing standards for its health services program that account for surge deployments would help ensure the Coast Guard is best targeting its resources to meet mission needs. To monitor access to care, the Coast Guard relies on each of its clinics to manually estimate access by counting the number of days to the next available appointment. However, Coast Guard officials stated that this approach does not produce reliable information on whether the Coast Guard is meeting its access-to-care standards. Coast Guard officials said they hope to collect system-wide data on access to care using a new electronic health record system. The Coast Guard expects to complete the system’s initial rollout by September 2022, but officials have not yet determined how to use the system to monitor access. While the service works to better understand the capabilities of the new system, improving its process to collect more reliable access data will allow the Coast Guard to more accurately monitor whether its clinics and sickbays are meeting its access standards. Why GAO Did This Study In support of its maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship missions, the Coast Guard—a military service within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—is tasked with providing health care to its approximately 47,000 active duty and reserve personnel. The Coast Guard offers certain outpatient medical and dental services to its personnel through 43 outpatient clinics and 122 sickbays, which are small facilities typically staffed by a health technician. The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 required GAO to review the Coast Guard health care system. This report examines how the Coast Guard 1) staffs its clinics and sickbays, 2) determines its staffing needs, and 3) monitors whether access-to-care standards are being met at its clinics and sickbays. GAO analyzed Coast Guard medical staffing and vacancy data as of July 2021, and reviewed relevant staffing and access-to-care policy documents. GAO also interviewed Coast Guard officials responsible for the health services program as well as Coast Guard staff from three clinics selected for variation in geographic location and number of staff.