SLOVAKIA is interested in participating in the new NATO training mission in Afghanistan after 2014.

“As long as we have legal guarantees, we are ready to be a part of this mission, and we have also discussed it today,” said Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák, as quoted by the TASR newswire, after talks between NATO-member foreign ministers in Brussels held on June 25.

The current ISAF military operation is drawing to its end, with most NATO forces leaving from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Further involvement of foreign troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is not certain as relevant security agreements to this effect have not been signed, following the refusal of outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the contracts.

Karzai wants to leave the decision to his successor, who will emerge from the recent presidential election run-off that took place on June 14. Both candidates for the post, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, have said they would sign the long-postponed bilateral security agreement with the US. The agreement would facilitate a post-2014 mission with nearly 10,000 soldiers present in the country for a period of two years.

“We expect that a president will be sworn in as soon as possible and that agreements that would allow for further cooperation between the Alliance and Afghanistan after 2014 aimed at assisting Afghan security forces will be signed,” Lajčák added, as quoted by TASR.

The foreign affairs minister also told journalists that Slovakia will unveil a package of measures aimed at achieving a more effective defence of the whole transatlantic grouping at NATO’s summit in Wales in September. This should involve boosting the country’s spending on defence. Slovakia currently allocates only approximately 1 percent of its GDP to this purpose, whereas NATO members have pledged to spend at least 2 percent of GDP.

Moreover, Lajčák said that at the meeting the ministers also examined relations between NATO and Russia. According to him, the officials concurred that the NATO should continue to communicate with Moscow only at the level of ambassadors and above, TASR wrote.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.