Slovakia offers anti-terrorist units to the EU

SLOVAKIA is ready to offer its special anti-terrorist units for the European Union's rapid response forces, Slovak defence minister Ivan Šimko told his EU partners in Brussels on May 19.

In 2000, the Slovak government decided to contribute to the joint EU rapid response unit an artillery company, four MI-17 helicopters, an engineering mine-clearing unit, a military police unit, and a field ambulance.

Besides offering an anti-terrorist unit, Šimko said Slovakia also intended to enlarge the artillery company to a battalion by 2006, and possibly offer also MI-24 combat helicopters. He said that as an EU and NATO member-to-be, Slovakia wants to be a reliable partner.

Šimko stressed that the anti-terrorist units are important to Slovakia for domestic reasons too.

"Unfortunately, we are living in an era when global terrorism exists, when any country in the world can be attacked, and therefore it is important that we are prepared," Šimko said.

The minister added that no proposal for establishing the EU's military forces as a counterbalance to NATO forces was voiced at the meeting. He said that in his opinion, EU and NATO military forces should be complementary.

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