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Cabinet might gain power to deploy troops

DEFENCE Minister Juraj Liška plans to propose an amendment to the constitution that would enable the cabinet to send army units on operations abroad for a term of 60 days without parliamentary approval.

The minister said this would enable Slovakia to fulfil its obligations to NATO and the European Union. These include providing EU and NATO rapid-reaction forces with Slovak soldiers within a few days notice, the TASR news wire reported.

"The current system is not effective when set alongside current threats. We are not able to deploy our soldiers effectively and quickly enough," Liška said.

Parliament would maintain the power to revise the cabinet's decision within 60 days and if the deputies disagreed with the deployment, the soldiers would have to return home.

The presence of foreign armed forces on Slovak territory would require a similar process.

Three-fifths of parliamentary votes are needed in order to make any change in the Constitution.

Parliamentary Defence Committee Chairman Robert Kaliňák, however, disapproves of Liška's proposal. He considers the participation of Slovak soldiers in foreign missions to be a crucial issue that needs parliamentary approval.

"Slovakia is still a parliamentary democracy. It is inadvisable to make any changes in the Constitution in order to enable the cabinet to send our soldiers on operations, apart from peace-keeping operations and operations required by international agreements," he told TASR.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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