SLOVAKIA’s acceptance of three members of the Uighur ethnic group who were previously incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay US military base is an acknowledgement of Slovakia’s friendship with the US, Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said on TV channel TA3’s political discussion show on January 19.

The move is also an acknowledgement of the fact that if Slovakia is to criticise the detention facility, then it should be involved in closing it down, Lajčák said, adding that accepting detainees is a humanitarian action coupled with Slovakia’s efforts to contribute to Guantanamo’s closure.

There are still more than 100 detainees at the US Military base in Cuba.

“After requesting US assistance many times and receiving it in every instance, it would be egoistical and selfish of us to respond to their request now with ‘it’s none of our business’,” said Lajčák, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

He also said that Slovakia’s acceptance of the three Guantanamo detainees is unrelated to his and Prime Minister Robert Fico’s meeting with US President Barack Obama in November 2013. According to the minister, Slovakia has accepted Guantanamo detainees before, but it has always been carried out under controlled conditions.

He added that none of the three members of the Uighur ethnic group - who are all Chinese citizens - are on the list of terrorists.

“Citizens of Slovakia face no danger and can sleep well,” said Lajčák.

This is the second time that Slovakia has accepted former prisoners of the Guantanamo base. Another three men - of Egyptian, Tunisian and Azerbaijani origin - were brought to the country in 2010.

All of them had spent eight years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay as the US authorities suspected them of cooperating with terrorist organisations.

According to available information, at least two of them have already left Slovakia, where they had been under a form of protective watch.