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EU Greens blast Slovakia for arms trade agreement with Sri Lanka

The Greens faction in the European Parliament on April 15 in Brussels condemned an arms trade agreement between Slovakia and Sri Lanka that it says violates multiple provisions of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, the TASR newswire wrote.

The Greens faction in the European Parliament on April 15 in Brussels condemned an arms trade agreement between Slovakia and Sri Lanka that it says violates multiple provisions of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, the TASR newswire wrote.

"I am shocked to hear that Slovakia has signed an agreement to sell weapons to the government of Sri Lanka, a country which has been locked for 25 years in a civil war during which massive infringement of human rights, notably against civilians, has occurred," according to Raul Romeva i Rueda, the Greens MEP for reports on arms exports.

Romeva i Rueda pointed out that Slovakia was a member of the EU that has pledged to adhere to the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. According to him, the EU is planning in the near future to adopt a common position that would make the Code binding on all member countries. Meanwhile, the Code has been deemed politically binding ever since its inception a decade ago.

"It is very disconcerting that individual member countries continue to sign arms trade contracts without following the code, consulting other member states or reporting to the EP," said the Spanish MEP, who is poised to call Slovak authorities to account and turn to the EU Council over the issue.

Slovakia's Defence Ministry has dismissed the criticism on April 15.

"The Grad 122-mm rockets were bought from the Ministry of Defence surplus stocks by the SMS arms trading company of Dubnica nad Váhom on November 24, 2006 at a sale price of Sk8.45 million (€261.618)," said the ministry's spokesman Vladimír Gemela. The defence ministry, according to him, handles surplus ammunition in keeping with the valid laws and as economically as possible.

One of the ways to achieve that is selling surplus army assets through public tender procedures. During these, companies licensed to trade in arms will submit bids and tender winners are obliged to treat the acquired military materiel in line with laws, agreements and contracts. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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