THERE has been a lack of interest in issues related to defence since Slovakia joined NATO in 2004. This has resulted in collapsing armed forces, dependence on Russia and criticism from NATO, Central European Policy Institute (CEPI) analysts Marián Majer and Jaroslav Naď said on May 29.

Despite the good name of Slovak troops, whether on foreign missions or in Slovakia, the Slovak defence sector has a bad international reputation, the analysts stressed. This is mainly due to unclear positions and a lack of interest in international issues.

“It is essential that the defence minister should participate in negotiations abroad, because if he does not go there, it sends out a bad signal,” Naď said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Another weak spot of the Slovak armed forces is a lack of money. Over the past five years, Slovakia’s GDP has grown by 10 percent, but the defence budget has decreased by 26 percent. Naď pointed out that other states in the vicinity of Ukraine and Russia have already declared increases in their military budgets.

“In Slovakia a clear halt to future increases has been voiced,” Majer said, as quoted by TASR.

A further problem is, according to analysts, the lack of modernisation of the Slovak army. There is chaos in the defence sector in terms of personnel as well. Experienced soldiers and civilians are leaving the armed forces, while key positions in NATO, the EU and the UN are vacant. In addition to this, the Slovak military is poorly trained.

“Training is a long-term problem in the military,” Naď said. “It is most visible when it comes to jet pilots. The number of flight hours that Slovak pilots fly per year is less than half the prescribed standards.”

The Military Intelligence (VS), which has faced several allegations of misuse in the past, is also problematic. The staff at the VS is not of the best quality, Naď said, adding that “we need to increase external control over military intelligence”.

Majer and Naď think that there is a need to create a working group involving a wide range of experts and representatives of the ministries of defence, foreign affairs and interior in order to produce specific solutions to the poor state of Slovak defence. They intend to present the results ahead of NATO summit due to take place in September in Wales, as reported by TASR.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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