Those who present a threat – they try to be ahead of our security systems and they count on our habitual way of thinking


  • Damir Krstičević


Zagreb, 170919.
Hotel Esplanade.
Hotel Esplanade. Medjunarodna konferencija Ministarstva obrane i Jutarnjeg lista na temu domovinska sigurnost i upravljanje.
Na fotografiji: Gordan Grlic Radman, Davor Bozinovic, Damir Krsticevic, Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic i Ana Hanzekovic.
Foto: Darko Tomas / CROPIX
Darko Tomas / CROPIX

At the Conference (from left): minister of foreign affairs Gordan Grlić Radman, minister of interior Davor Božinović, minister of defence Damir Krstičević, president of Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and owner of Jutarnji list Ana Hanžeković

Speech of deputy prime minister and minister of defence Damir Krstičević on the conference "Homeland Security and Crisis Management", Zagreb, September 17th

 It is my great honour to have the opportunity to address you today and thank all those showing interest for this very important topic. I thank all speakers and panelists for the time devoted to informing us all about the importance of security for the development and survival of people, organisations, states and societies in complex and ever changing environment. 

As chairman of the Coordination for Homeland security I would like to thank all those who unselfishly, on a daily basis, contribute to the strengthening and development of the system: members of civil protection, firemen, policemen, the military, members of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, Croatian Red Cross, Emergency Medical Service, numerous professionals, volunteers, citizens who by their engagement fully affirm the meaning of "Partnership for Security“. 

I would also like to thank our co-organiser HANZA Media and Jutarnji list for readily accepting the initiative to organize such a conference. I am convinced that with their help we will fulfil the wish that such a conference be organized next year as well. 


As some of the aims are to analyse the achievements and areas for possible improvement and to show the direction of further development of the Homeland security system, I would like to start with the conclusion that not so long ago, we have started to talk seriously about Homeland Security. Some welcomed this moment with excitement, some with curiosity, some without understanding it, some even opposed it.

In the background, there was systematic analytical work of a group of people within the Parliamentary Committee for national security, defence and internal affairs.   

The starting point was the fact that Croatia has numerous different capabilities and resources scattered throughout different bodies in charge of and having the authority for national security.

However, the fact was that the “system” was non-harmonized, reactive, exclusive and fragmented. It needed improvements to be able to function as a “system“.  

There were two important moments in the development of the Homeland Security System: the first was full support by the President of the Republic of Croatia to the new security concept, what was affirmed by the newly formed Council for homeland security as an expert and advisory body; and the second was including the formation of an effective homeland security system into the Government Program for the timeframe 2016-2020. 

We witness how the change in the security paradigm has put new challenges in front of the world's defence and security systems, asking for inclusiveness and coordination of all the elements of state power. 

The reason is the new security trends which show the complexity of global, European and regional political and security relations, an increased level of uncertainty where the military and non-military threats will come from and in what ways they will manifest.  

Many things contribute to that: trends related to climate changes, demographic trends, migrations, new technologies and globalisation of economy, as well as the ever more important role of social media in creating social and security processes.

These trends ask from us to be faster, better and more ready than those who present a threat. On the other hand, those who present a threat – they try to be ahead of our security systems and they count on our habitual way of thinking!

Therefore, our obligation is to think outside the habitual framework, to think "Out of Box“, imagine unimaginable situations and scenarios, encourage critical and creative thinking.

Although, as all other countries, we are exposed to different risks and threats, Croatia is a safe country today, and millions of EU and world citizens recognize that, visiting Croatia as tourists.

The first step in building the System was to draft a new National Security Strategy which was adopted in 2017 as the basic strategic document in the area of security.

After 15 years, the new Strategy clearly defined national interests and strategic objectives, and one of the strategic objectives was to "establish and develop the Homeland Security System“. 

Strategy has clearly shown that we need a model of security system that will, by coordinated and planned reaction and management in emergency and crisis situations, solve identified shortfalls and achieve synergic preventive action by fast and efficient prevention, i.e. removal of harmful consequences of an emergency or crisis, shortening the recovery time and establishing functionality.

How much did we succeed in that?

The Act on Homeland security system adopted in October 2017 set the legal framework for action. The Coordination for the Homeland security system was established as an interdepartmental body in charge of harmonization and coordination of work with clear objectives and tasks elaborated through the Annual working plan of the Coordination.   

Although passing the Act was only the first step in the process of establishing and developing the Homeland security system, it has already justified its existence. Perhaps the most important result of the Act so far is strengthening the awareness of how important security and motivation are for the majority of subjects within the society to give their full contribution to the Homeland security system.

We can say that the Homeland Security System has become a brand of this Government. 

The Coordination for the Homeland security system has regularly held meetings discussing and making conclusions on important topics for the system. It has from the beginning included the academia, experts, representatives of the operational forces and local (regional) authority.   

Here I would like to underline the exercises in the area of cyber security conducted to increase the awareness of cyber threats in comparison to critical infrastructure and defining possible shortfalls and responses as well as the area for improvement, especially in relation to regulations on working processes and infrastructure exposed to cyber threats. 

The area of cyber security has seen significant improvements through the Act on cyber security of operators of essential services and digital service providers which regulates the correspondence of relevant authorities and procedures to solve the incidents. The whole process was evaluated and explained in the exercise "Cyber shield 2019“. 

Another area where exercises were organized is firefighting. Besides two annual exercises which evaluate the readiness of the system and forces, significant improvements have been made in preventive action and response to fires. Establishing an operational firefighting command with a Situational operational centre, computer assisted support, improved video surveillance, UAVs, shorter decision-making process, and better crisis communication, is a role model how the system should develop also in other areas of possible crises.

The Coordination has actively participated in the field during heavy snows, floods and open area fires. Compared to previous times, in this area the established Homeland security system has enabled relevant state bodies to optimal action. Decreased reaction time, efficiency, organization, foreseeing and timely reaction are only some of the qualities we have witnessed. 

We continue to build this system on a daily basis. This synergy, linking all the components of the state, gives results.

Police, Military, civil protection, firemen, security and intelligence system, local community, associations, citizens – everyone is making his/her contribution. 

To make the system even better and more efficient the decision was made to integrate the National Protection and Rescue Directorate and other three institutions into a new Civil Protection Directorate within the Ministry of Interior. This opens the opportunity to develop currently underdeveloped crisis management functions and the security protection of national critical infrastructure.

Of course, the system needs to be updated all the time, and there are many areas in which improvements are needed.

The legal framework also needs to be updated in a way many countries have done it, by adopting a Crisis management Act. What this government will start to do, and was never done before, is to produce a Crisis management Handbook in 2020. This Handbook will, along with other things, describe the very concrete roles and tasks of each component within the system with an emphasis on the preparation and response phases to respective types of crises. An interdepartmental team was formed, to work on the Handbook.

Another contribution to the System will be the Homeland security studies to start in 2020 or 2021, on the Defence and Security University Dr. Franjo Tuđman. This study will build future leaders in this demanding functional area. It will be a huge contribution since currently we do not have the possibility to produce experts in this area.

The operational framework must be built on. Following the model of sector operational centre, we need to establish a National situational/crisis centre as an analytical-information-communication body that helps the Coordination and the crisis headquarters established on national level for different types of crises. This need has been recognised in the draft of National development Strategy 2030. Of course, we would like to form such a centre much before that deadline.    

We also have to work on strengthening the analytical capabilities and the engagement of certain Sectors by building the necessary organization and expertise to enable the Coordination members as decision-makers, to make informed decisions.

An important direction in the development of the Homeland security system is greater engagement of businesses from private and non-governmental sector, in the activities and objectives from the security risk management process, including management in crises situations. A special contribution is expected from private security industry and the academic and scientific community.

In the end, being aware that the security situation in the coming years and decades will not be simpler but on the contrary, much more complex, it is to be expected that the value of the Homeland security system will be more visible in the times to come.

Due to all this, we can say that the foundations of success of the Homeland security system is prevention of harmful events. By prevention, we avoid a crisis from emerging or we decrease the scale of a crisis that already happened. We are aware that this is a difficult task, there is still a lot of work to be done, but we believe this to be the only right way.

Therefore, through prevention as the first precondition and synergy of the system, through adequate foreseeing capability, the lessons learned, through coordination and decentralization of the system, we continue to protect our citizens, our critical infrastructure and our Homeland.

Thank you!