Bratislava, February 23 (TASR) – Defence policies haven’t been a genuine priority of the current Government during its four-year term, according to analyst Marian Majer of the Slovak Security Policy Institute (SSPI), adding that it has become one only after the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, TASR learnt on Tuesday.
“It’s true that some projects have already started and some have been contributed to, but I can’t vouchsafe that it had happened because defence policies were the priority,” explained Majer, adding that some positive steps in the area of defence have been carried out but more could’ve been done to this end.
Government’s hesitant approach to defence could have been seen in its bewildering declarations about Ukrainian crisis or in impugning the anticipated increases in the defence budget. Majer recalled that Slovakia has pledged at the NATO summit in Wales (September 2014) to increase defence spending to reach 1.6 percent of GDP by 2020. It currently hovers at around 1.1 percent, whereas the expectation from NATO is 2 percent – but no other country in the region complies either.
This commitment can easily be fulfilled, but it requires a responsible approach of the future government. We’ll approximately need €400 million to submit to our duty.
Majer pointed to the absence of any kind of long-term plan for defence. “Conceptually speaking, it’s a total disaster. All steps are performed on an ad hoc basis,” said Jaroslav Nad from SSPI. Some of the joint international projects haven’t been carried out entirely satisfactorily. For instance, the common project with the Czech Republic about the infantry’s combat vehicles.
On the other hand, analysts praised the launch of some modernisation initiatives, purchase of weaponry and development of the Training Centre in Lest (Banska Bystrica region).
The Defence Ministry responded that over the past four years the ministry succeeded in purchasing a great deal of equipment and materials via transparent American governmental funds FMS (Foreign Military Sales), FMF (Foreign Military Financing) and via NSPA (NATO Support and Procurement Agency).
According to the ministry, even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg appreciated Slovakia’s moves.
“It’s an indubitable fact that the current leadership has so far contributed the most to the development of the Slovak Armed Forces. Those who can’t see it just don’t want to see it and feed the public with misleading information. Such is also the view of these analysts, Freedom and Solidarity appointees, one of whom also ran in previous general election,” emphasised the ministry statement.
“It’s logical that one minister isn’t able to handle all the problems amassing for the past 20 years. The current leadership took over the ministry in desperately bad shape,” added the ministry.