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Defence Ministry wanted to do business with Belarus

THE SLOVAK Defence Ministry selected in a tender for rocket systems parts a firm that wants to import the parts from Belarus. Though arms exports from Belarus are not embargoed, the country still has an undemocratic regime, writes the daily SME.

On November 7, the European Union said it would impose sanctions on Belarus if President Lukashenko does not implement democratic elections in the country.

The ministry announced a public competition with two firms, Ralas and Chemica from Košice. Chemica is a representative of a Russian firm, which produces the original parts and which supplied Slovakia with whole systems.

The commission picked Ralas, which made a bid several millions of crowns lower. Ralas, however, declared that it would provide the parts from a Belarussian firm.

When the competition warned that the deal might be sensitive, Ralas said that it might buy the parts from a firm from the Belize Caribbean.

However, based on the agreement the firm was supposed to provide the parts by December 15, 2004, but the licence was given to them only after that date. The firm intended to change the supplier after the licence was issued and the firm needs a new licence for each new supplier.

Balázs Jarábik of the Pontis Foundation, which is involved in the fight for democracy in Belarus, said that weapon trading with Belarus could harm Slovakia.

Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
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