FM: Every EU member state must send ammunition to Ukraine

NEWS 21.03.202313:12
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Ukraine was the main topic of the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday, with a special emphasis on the aid in ammunition that it needs in the fight to liberate its territory, said Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman, stressing that all member countries must be included in this.

The Croatian minister in Brussels took part the meeting of the Council for Foreign Affairs of the EU and at the European Humanitarian Forum, as well as the Schuman Forum for Security and Defense.

“Ukraine is the most important topic that burdens not only the EU, but also the entire democratic international community (…) We discussed how to send even more and create conditions for even stronger aid to Ukraine,” Grlic-Radman told reporters after the meeting.

He is confident that all 27 member countries of the European bloc must strongly participate in helping Kyiv. Grlic-Radman added that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joined the meeting via video link and asked for help in weapons and ammunition.

“All countries must be strongly involved, in accordance with their own supplies and capacities, in helping Ukraine in its just fight for freedom and liberation of its territory,” Grlic-Radman said.

He said that simultaneously with the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, a donor conference for Turkey and Syria took place and recalled that Croatia has so far allocated €5.5 million to Turkey and €600,000 to Syria.

“Last year, Croatia participated in humanitarian aid with a total of €4.5 million, this year we raised the amount to €7 million,” said the minister and clarified that it is not only about helping Ukraine, but also countries in other crisis hotspots, including Afghanistan.

‘Serbia-Kosovo agreement binding with or without signature’

It is about a wide range of assistance, from mine removal to psychological rehabilitation, Grlic-Radman said.

Commenting on the agreement that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti accepted in Ohrid on Saturday, but the Serbian President did not want to sign it, Grlic-Radman said that “the agreement, whatever it may be, is binding, with or without a signature.”

“It was presented as an agreement between two parties. I singled out the avoidance of any possibility that the agreement would not be respected. It is necessary to implement the agreement, but it is also necessary to avoid non-respect later, when we are talking about EU membership and prospects for joining the bloc, so that the EU retains all the criteria and standards that had to be met by all members”, said the minister.

When asked if the EU is lenient towards Serbia, Grlic-Radman replied: “I can’t talk about that, but I said that regardless of the agreements, they (the agreements) should should not be seen as a reward for someone, but as an agreement on a real situation. And compromise is always part of the agreement between two parties that may have had opposite views on some things… But, I repeat, all those that want to enter the EU, just as Croatia had, must respect the European values, criteria and standards that are set on that journey.”

EDA brings together 18 countries for Common Procurement of Ammunition

On the sidelines of the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, attended by ministers of foreign affairs and ministers of defense in Brussels, Croatian Minister of Defense Mario Banozic signed the European Defence Agency (EDA) project arrangement for the collaborative procurement of ammunition to aid Ukraine and replenish member states’ national stockpiles.

The project opens the way for EU Member States and Norway to proceed along two paths: a two-year, fast-track procedure for 155mm artillery rounds and a seven-year project to acquire multiple ammunition types. Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and Norway have signed. More member countries have already expressed their intent to join the initiative soon following national procedures.

Banozic supported the urgent delivery and procurement of ammunition for Ukraine, but also for EU member states.

“We support the continuation of support to Ukraine because it is extremely important for maintaining the ability of the Ukrainian forces in the fight against Russian aggression. Ammunition is of key importance in this, and it is important that at the same time the member states have adequate ammunition stockpiles,” said Banozic.

When asked whether the countries that supply ammunition to Ukraine can count on the refund from the European Peace Fund, Banozic replied that one billion euros has been set aside for this purpose.

“We expect 50 to 60 percent of the funds for all those resources that are currently being given as aid to Ukraine, namely a refund iof 50 to 60 percent that will be further transferred for the modernisation and equipment of the Croatian Army,” Banožić said. He did not answer a journalist’s question about the exact figures.