Croatian Deputy Defense Minister Damir Krstičević, some 80 Croatian soldiers will be sent to join the NATO troops that will join NATO forces defending the alliance's eastern flank in the coming weeks.
Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Maciereiwicz who visited Zagreb, has thanked Croatia for the troops.
“This is very important for us, especially now, when we face many challenges at the eastern flank,” Macierewicz said, adding that Poland was “especially grateful” for Croatian troops that were being sent to join a NATO multinational battalion battle group stationed in Poland.
At a Warsaw summit in 2016, NATO decided four multinational battalions would be stationed in Poland and the Baltic states amid fears of Russian aggression following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014.
After meeting Krstičević on Monday, Macierewicz said that Poland and Croatia could work together on helicopter repairs, and that Polish special forces' involvement in setting up a NATO centre of excellence in Croatia "is possible".
Macierewicz said Poland had "a lot of experience" and was willing to share its know-how and support Croatia.
He also thanked Croatia for its contribution to the work at the NATO Counter Intelligence Centre for Excellence in Poland.
From Croatia, Macierewicz headed to Montenegro and then to Albania for further talks as part of an official tour of the Balkans.
After meeting his Albanian counterpart in Tirana on Tuesday, Maciereiwicz said that “Polish soldiers will stay in the Balkans as long as necessary.”
He pointed out that Poland was aware that Albania was key to stability in the Balkans and to stopping "a wave of terrorism". Poland has about 270 troops serving in Kosovo as peacekeepers in the NATO-led Kosovo Force.
For his part, Albanian Defense Minister Olta Xhaçka thanked Poland for supporting Kosovo’s independence, adding that Poland's armed forces were contributing to the stability of the whole region.