Bratislava, August 26 (TASR) – Slovakia isn’t responsible when weapons exported from the country end up in war-torn Syria, Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) stated indirectly on Friday .
Gajdos was responding to public broadcaster Slovak Radio and Television (RTVS), which in its main evening news on Thursday (August 25) reported that last year Slovakia exported to Saudi Arabia 40,000 assault rifles, more than 1,000 mortars, 14 rocket launchers, almost 500 heavy machine guns and more than 1,500 RPGs.
The list of weapons was published by the United Nations, despite the fact that Slovakia asked to be exempted from annual reports on arms exports. According to experts, the weapons ended up in war-torn Syria, and so Slovakia has significantly contributed to the conflict that has pushed millions of people out of that country.
“Regarding the issue of selling arms, as the prime minister [Robert Fico] said, this is business carried out not only by Slovakia but also by the rest of the world,” said Gajdos earlier in the day.
The defence minister noted that regarding the arms trade, strict rules are applied, and these rules are also binding for the end user. “End users are responsible for how they use or, excuse me for the expression, misuse these weapons,” said Gajdos.
A similar statement was made by Fico around a month ago, when he said that neither the Government, nor its prime minister can be held accountable if weapons originating from Slovakia emerge in a conflict somewhere abroad.
“Arms are a normal business product. If we don’t sell them, somebody else will, but don’t come crying to me if a lack of arms deals causes the loss of jobs for our people. I, for one, have never had a problem with this,” said Fico in July.
British daily The Guardian and several news agencies in July reported that a number of central and eastern European countries have approved arms deals worth more than a billion euros within the past four years to countries in the Middle East that were known to be supplying weapons to Syria. Slovakia was among the countries in question, wrote the British daily.