President: Slovak Army Valued Abroad, Project Transparency Is Challenge

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President Zuzana Caputova and Chief-of-General-Staff Daniel Zmeko (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 30 (TASR) – Meeting Slovakia’s commitment to invest 2 percent of its GDP in defence by 2024 and the questionable level of transparency of some modernisation projects are the biggest challenges faced by the Slovak Armed Forces, said President Zuzana Caputova following a commanders meeting held by Chief-of-General-Staff Daniel Zmeko on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Caputova praised the high esteem in which the Slovak Armed Forces are held abroad and the level of public trust in the military.

The president positively evaluated investment in the military, the halt put to falling army numbers, the renewal of military equipment and the work of soldiers abroad. “Money mustn’t go solely on purchases or ongoing activities; it must also be invested in infrastructure and training soldiers,” she said. As with the appointment of judges and ambassadors, Caputova wants to pay attention not only to proficiency but also to personal traits when appointing generals.

Defence Minister Peter Gajdos (Slovak National Party/SNS) called 2019 a year of the soldier and a historic modernisation of the army. He also pointed to an increase in soldiers’ pay brought about by a legal amendment approved last year and highlighted the assistance provided by soldiers when tragic events and natural disasters strike.

Zmeko confirmed that the goal of increasing the operational readiness of army was met successfully last year. However, he admitted that it still hasn’t reached the desired level. “We expect to achieve this level if financial resources flow into the armed forces as planned, i.e. in three to four years,” he said, adding that organisational changes and communication with the public were important issues for the Slovak army last year as well.