Common Sky above Slovakia and Czech Republic Becomes Reality

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Czech and Slovak Defence Ministers (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 5 (TASR) – Slovak Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (Slovak National Party/SNS) and Czech Defence Minister Karla Slechtova signed an executive agreement on the mutual protection of airspace on Friday.  The so-called “common Czech-Slovak sky” is thus entering into the practical implementation phase.

The countries’ joint agreement is fully operational as of the signing date and will be implemented, the Slovak minister announced in a follow-up briefing. “This means in practice that we’ll provide each other with mutual cooperation in protecting the airspace, regardless of means of air protection,” said Gajdos.

Gajdos also discussed with the newly-appointed head of the Czech Defence Ministry the possibilities of mutual cooperation in the modernisation of the countries’ armed forces, as well as the continuation of cooperation between companies in the field of arms production. Slechtova stressed that Slovakia is a key partner and the Czech Republic wants to cooperate with it on joint projects, but also at the level of V4 countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia).

According to Gajdos, it’s not an obstacle that both countries have different types of supersonic fighters. Slovakia, which in the past was considering buying the kind of Swedish JAS-Gripen fighters also hired by the Czech Republic, will still depend on Russia’s MiG-29 fighters in the coming years. “These relationships are really above-standard, this day confirms this and it doesn’t matter whether we have Gripen or MiG-29 fighters but that the contract will be secured and we’ll secure it,” the Slovak minister stressed.

Slovakia could also sign a similar agreement with Hungary in the coming months, Gajdos said. “We are holding talks with Poland. They think that the contract from NATO is sufficient because there is the NATINAC air defence system,” he added.

The agreement between Slovakia and the Czech Republic on the mutual protection of their airspace was inked in Brussels on February 15, 2017 by the Slovak and Czech defence ministers, Peter Gajdos and Martin Stropnicky, respectively. The document, which was subsequently ratified by the national Parliaments as well as the presidents of both states, assumes mutual assistance in the face of a terrorist threat or in the event that one of the countries was unable to ensure the protection of its airspace.