Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, Slovakia's arms export regime has been criticised by Slovak state officials who have faulted the license commission in particular. Western diplomatic sources have also expressed reservations. Here are three opinions:
Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) head Vladimír Mitro: "Legislative holes can be a serious barrier that are worsened by various administrative obstructions and ministry squabbles. A good example is the problem of the license commission for trade in military material. Instead of the SIS being welcomed there as an important partner, its active participation is resisted under various pretexts. This is in spite of the fact that the SIS has been warned many times from abroad that Slovakia should devise a reliable control regime for arms trading."
Ján Mojžiš, head of the National Security Office (NBÚ): "I asked the US how we could help in the global fight against terrorism. The answer was interesting. The arrest of the three Irish terrorists [in July, 2001 in Piešťany] shows that Slovakia is a favourite country for terrorist organisations, so in the first instance we should exchange secret service information. The second area is the weapons trade. We don't have a good name here, and the US has admitted it is giving us special attention in this sphere. The world looks very negatively on the fact that our arms traders falsify licenses and end user certificates and are supplying global terrorist organisations with weapons and systems. Our priority should be adopting a radical solution to this problem."
Onno Simons, a counsellor at the European Commission's Bratislava delegation:
"In general, supervisory bodies that are supposed to regulate markets should be truly independent, and that goes for arms exports as well. Arms control, or the lack thereof, is a matter of great concern to us, and I fully agree with the authorities you mentioned [Mojžiš and Mitro] that Slovakia needs to get its act together."
17. Dec 2001 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson