MFA Continuing Talks on Defence Cooperation Agreement with USA
Bratislava, August 18 (TASR) – The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is continuing talks on a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the USA, the ministry’s press department has told TASR, adding that this is taking place in a standard way so that the agreement’s definitive wording will reflect Slovakia’s interests as much as possible.
“We’ve been in operative contact with the Slovak ministries concerned and with the US side as needed,” stated the ministry. It stressed that from the very beginning Slovakia’s main line in talks with the USA has been to ensure that an agreement, if concluded, will fully respect Slovakia’s sovereignty, Constitution and legislation.
“The stances of Slovakia and the USA are being gradually fine-tuned, we’ve been exchanging proposals and comments in order to approach as closely as possible a wording of provisions that will suit both parties,” stated the ministry. If it agrees with the US side on the final version, the ministry will submit the draft agreement to the Cabinet and Parliament in a standard manner.
Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) said in March that the Foreign Affairs Ministry would resume talks with the United States on the DCA. The main goal of the talks would be to confirm whether Slovakia is capable of hammering out an agreement that won’t violate its sovereignty, won’t guarantee the presence of the US military in Slovakia and won’t force the country into projects that it doesn’t want on its own soil.
At a Coalition Council meeting in April the party leaders agreed that Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (Slovak National Party/SNS) wouldn’t participate in the talks. The Defence Ministry had argued that signing the agreement would threaten Slovakia’s sovereignty.
The Defence Ministry’s decision was criticised by then president Andrej Kiska, as well as several opposition and coalition MPs, in part because US funding to repair Slovak air bases was set to be included. Subsequently, Parliamentary Chair and SNS chair Andrej Danko claimed that no one had rejected US funding for the repairs because no funds had been offered. The Defence Ministry also claimed that funding hadn’t been turned down, adding that the negotiations on the DCA needed to be completed first.