Kiska: Army Must Spend Money Transparently

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Slovak President Andrej Kiska (right), Defence Minister Peter Gajdos and Slovak Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Milan Maxim (left) evaluating the army year in 2017 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, February 1 (TASR) – If the Slovak Armed Forces want to maintain their high, 70 percent-plus confidence rating vis-a-vis the public, they need to spend funding aimed at their modernisation transparently, conceptually and effectively, stated Slovak President Andrej Kiska after the annual assembly of Slovak Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Milan Maxim on Thursday.

Evaluating the army year of 2017, Kiska noted that the Slovak Armed Forces have received a huge amount of money for the modernisation process. “Every single euro of this €500 million must be spent in a transparent and effective way. Each purchase must be made on the basis of responsible plans,” said the president, adding that this process mustn’t stagnate.

Kiska in this context pointed to areas that have been suffering from obsolescence for a long time, mentioning the supersonic air force in particular. “I was horrified when I heard today how few flight hours our fighters have undergone due to our obsolete machinery,” said Kiska.

The president also reminded the army management that Slovakia must meet its commitments as a NATO-member country. “We can’t disappoint the trust of our allies,” he said, adding that the country is meeting only one third of the 73 goals within NATO.

Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (Slovak National Party/SNS) at a press briefing stressed the ministry’s efforts to carry out the process of modernising the army as transparently and efficiently as possible. “We weren’t afraid to admit the state of the armed forces, and based on this we’ve managed to provide a real long-term plan with a vision until 2030, including the care of soldiers,” said Gajdos.

Maxim said that the quality of the Slovak army has increased, but there have been certain flaws that should be eliminated. “I see last year as rather bad,” he said, pointing to the scandal involving ammunition disappearing from a warehouse. “It wasn’t solely our fault, but there are shortcomings in the army,” he said, adding that he wants to maintain or even boost the army’s credibility in the eyes of the public.