Defence Minister Jaroslav Baška and Chief of the GeneralStaff of the Slovak Armed Forces Ľubomir Bulík on May 1 attended a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the involvement of Slovak troops in military missions abroad.
The event was held at a base of in the town of Sereď (Trnava region), from where the first contingent of Slovak soldiers following the country's independence left for a mission in Croatia on May 1, 1993. Thursday's gathering was attended by 200 of the 11,500 members of the Slovak armed forces who have taken part in foreign missions, along with former Slovak president Michal Kováč (1993-1998) and several foreign military attaches, the TASR newswire wrote.
Twenty soldiers were presented with commemorative letters, while another 130 veterans received commemorative medals from an organisation called UN Veteran Slovakia. The participants also observed one minute of silence in memory of the 53 Slovak soldiers who have lost their lives on missions between 1993-2006, including the 42 victims of the air crash that took place near the Hungarian village of Hejce on January 19, 2006.
In his speech, the defence minister stressed that Slovakia has sent troops to as many as 20 missions led by the UN, NATO, the EU and the OSCE in Europe, Asia and Africa, while 572 soldiers are currently on active service in 11 areas, most significantly in Kosovo, Cyprus, and Afghanistan. TASR
b>Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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2. May 2008 at 14:00