Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and US Ambassador W. Robert Kohorst signed a key co-operation agreement aimed at boosting air safety. The agreement enables the deployment of federal flight attendants on flights between Croatia and the United States. Escorts have a key role to play in preventing terrorism and other security threats in civil aviation. The conclusion of this agreement is also a key step in Croatia's efforts to join the Visa Waiver Program.
The Federal Flight Followers Service is the main law enforcement body, within the Travel Safety Agency, that negotiated this agreement with the Croatian Ministry of the Interior. Air escorts, also known worldwide as flight safety officers, are trained to respond to and deal with any criminal activity or other emergency on an aircraft. In accordance with international law, flight safety officers as security escorts provide the last line of defense in the aircraft in the fight against global terrorism and other international security threats.
This agreement is an important precondition for Croatia's accession to the Visa Waiver Program, which allows eligible citizens to travel to the United States for business or tourist purposes for up to 90 days without a visa.
After signing the Agreement on Sending Flight Followers, Bozinovic reminded that the fulfillment of security conditions for the inclusion of the Republic of Croatia in the Visa Waiver Program was intensified after the signing of the Implementing Agreement to the Agreement on Prevention and Fight against Serious Crime in January 2018 in Washington. During that visit, the first meeting was held at the Terrorist Control Center, with which a Memorandum of Cooperation was concluded, in August 2019 in Dubrovnik. Cooperation with the Attorney General has also been significantly intensified, including through the signing of the Extradition Treaty and the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, and a particularly significant step forward has been made in cooperation with US agencies such as the DEA and the FBI.
At the end of the negotiations are several technical acts that will enable the exchange of data on security suspects through the available information systems, the connection of which is being worked on intensively. The exchange of data on air passengers is also of great importance in strengthening bilateral security cooperation. In this field, the Republic of Croatia has made a significant step forward in the last few months in order to ensure the exchange of data with most airlines that transport over 90 percent of passengers to the Republic of Croatia by the end of this year. Bozinovic thanked the US Ambassador Cohort.
At the signing ceremony, in accordance with the epidemiological recommendations, Kohorst praised Minister Bozinovic for his commitment to the successful conclusion of this Agreement and to Croatia, which is a security partner in all areas.
Kohorst added: -With the reintroduction of direct flights from the United States last year for the first time since Croatia's independence and Croatia's growing popularity as a tourist destination among Americans, we expect more passengers between our two countries. This agreement provides an additional level of security to ensure that all persons traveling between the United States and Croatia are safe.