US – Croatia Joint Statement 17 March 2022

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 dated 17 March 2022.

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, Defence and Security, Energy and Climate Change, Regional Cooperation, Trade and Investment, and People-to-People Ties.

Global Issues

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.

Defence 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 emphasised the continued importance of developing high-end defence 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 recognised NATO as the foundation of Euro-Atlantic security and the essential forum for collective defence 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 decarbonisation 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).

Regional Cooperation

The United States and Croatia emphasised their joint commitment to advance the Euro-Atlantic perspective of the Western Balkans countries, and to see Croatia’s neighbours firmly anchored in a Europe free, whole, and at peace.  The United States and Croatia recognised 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 organisations must remain open and viable to incentivise 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 recognising 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 Organisation 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.

People-to-People Ties  

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.

(Prepared and accessed by Ina Vukic 19 March 2022)


Investment in Croatian Gas Could Bolster American Security

Tomislav Karamarko (L)
James Jay Carafano (R)
Photo: Croatian Institute for Security & Prosperity

By: Tomislav Karamarko and James Jay Carafano

Europe is hooked on Russian energy. Last year, the European Union (EU) relied on Russia for 34 percent of its gas imports —up significantly from 2015. European nations like Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia and Slovakia—remain dependent on Russia for more than 60 percent of their natural-gas imports.

What is more, Russia has no qualms about using energy as a trump card, cutting gas supplies to get its way in political disputes. For example, Moscow stopped supplying natural gas to Ukraine in 2006, 2009, 2014 and 2015, as that nation struggled to align itself with the West. Russia also cut back its cut back its natural-gas exports to Austria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in 2014 when these countries supported Ukraine.

Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is not in line with the interests of Europe and the United States. Decline of European gas production with no turnaround in sight speaks for itself. Last year, for example, the government statistics office in the Netherlands reported that 80 percent of the country’s natural-gas reserves were gone.

Still, there is a way to make Europe more energy independent with the help of American energy exports and the construction of new import facilities in Europe. One potential new entry point for American liquefied natural gas (LNG) is Croatia’s Krk Island. A planned LNG import facility there would initially accommodate delivery of two billion cubic meters of gas a year.

Krk Island’s strategic location would allow for LNG distribution both west (into countries like Italy and France) and south into other Balkan nations. That promising location is one reason why the terminal project has already secured over €100 million in funding from the EU.

The terminal project would let Croatia work with its closest ally—the United States—to forge a deeper energy partnership. Together, the facilities and the partnership would enhance both nations’ security and prosperity for decades to come.

All signs are positive. President Trump endorsed the project during his recent meeting with leaders from the Central and East European region. President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic voiced support in response.

President Trump’s statement that “the United States will never use energy to coerce your nations, and we cannot allow others to do so,” is key to understanding the importance of this project to Croatia, the EU and the United States.

The Krk Island terminal would join Lithuania’s Klaipėda terminal and Poland’s Świnoujście terminal as critical gateways for American LNG imports. And these three facilities can help ease the pressure of the Kremlin on Europe.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that Russia is lobbying for completion of a different energy project: the Nord Stream II pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which would connect Russia with Germany. However, that project is neither economically necessary nor geopolitically prudent.

As European nations reinvest in security, a comprehensive approach demands developing alternatives to Russian energy. The timing could not be better. For the first time in decades, America is becoming a net exporter of energy. Increasing U.S. energy exports to Europe will bind the Atlantic alliance closer, enhance energy security and create jobs and economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

An LNG terminal on Krk Island would do far more than create tremendous economic opportunity for Croatia and the United States. It could exert outsized influence on behalf of energy security and stability throughout the region.
Tomislav Karamarko is founder and chairman of the Croatian Institute for Security and Prosperity. James Jay Carafano is a Heritage Foundation vice president, in charge of the think tank’s research program on issues of national security and foreign relations.


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