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Fico: Slovakia not to increase defence budget

Prime Minister Robert Fico said at the GLOBSEC conference that Slovakia will not increase funds for the defence, even though as NATO member, Slovakia has taken the obligation to do so. According to him, Slovakia does not see a room to raise the budget in the following few years.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said at the GLOBSEC conference that Slovakia will not increase funds for the defence, even though as NATO member, Slovakia has taken the obligation to do so. According to him, Slovakia does not see a room to raise the budget in the following few years.

However, during his meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Fico slightly changed his words and said that the country will allocate more money for the modernisation of the army.

“During the past two years we have been passing unbelievable consolidation measures,” Fico said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, during the May 15 debate between premiers of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries. “I cannot imagine that in the following years there would be source to increase the budget for army.”

Slovakia currently allocates about 1 percent of GDP for the army, though it promised to NATO to contribute 2 percent.

Fico has surprised several analysts. The current situation shows that it is necessary to invest into defence, said Tomasz Szatkowski from the Warsaw-based National Centre for Strategic Studies Foundation, as reported by the Sme daily. According to him, neither Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka nor Hungarian PM Viktor Orban plan to increase the funds for defence, but they did not openly excluded it at the conference.

During the meeting with Rasmussen, who stressed the need of investing more into the defence, Fico said that Slovakia wants to fulfil its promises. Though he reiterated his claim about tough consolidation measures and sensitivity of the issue of increasing funds for the army, he said that the country will allocate more money for the modernisation.

“While in this term only about 8-9 percent was allocated for modernisation from the budget, the defence minister says that next year it will be 18-19 percent from the existing budget,” Fico said, as quoted by SITA.

Fico also said during the discussion with his V4 partners that he is sceptical over stricter sanctions against Russia. According to him, such sanctions would harm our economy.

Source: Sme, SITA

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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