Government suspends talks on military vehicles purchase

The ministers first need to learn more about the proposal.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

The government did not discuss the planned purchase of armoured vehicles for the Slovak armed forces after it withdrew the topic from its November 8 session agenda.

The problem was that the Slovak National Party (SNS), whose nominee Peter Gajdoš leads the Defence Ministry, tried to push through its own rules for modernising the army without further discussion with its coalition partners, the Denník N daily reported.

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The coalition parties Smer and Most-Híd criticise SNS for hiding details of the proposed €1 billion purchase. Moreover, the ministry proposes skipping the proper bid competition and assigning the order directly.

The document submitted for the government’s session suggests from whom Slovakia should buy an 81 eight-wheel personnel carrier for about €417 million and smaller four-wheel armoured vehicles for nearly €800 million, Denník N wrote.

“We have opened a debate,” said Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská (Most-Híd), as quoted by the TASR newswire. “Apparently, this material needs more talks and can be negotiated at the government level only after negotiations at the coalition level take place first.”

The cabinet will deal with the material next week, she added.

Proposals have to be published in advance

After the summer crisis, the coalition parties agreed on rules to avoid problems. The ministers have to publish their proposals at least one day before the government session, so the coalition leaders can comment on them, said PM Robert Fico, as reported by Denník N.

SNS did not comment on submitting the document. The Defence Ministry said it concerns the biggest army modernisation ever, and that they will discuss the proposal next week.

“The Defence Ministry will subsequently present the necessary information to the public, which can be published in compliance with the law on protection of classified information,” said its spokesperson Danka Capáková, as quoted by Denník N.

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Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) said after the session that the material is well-drafted yet so extensive that “many of us haven’t had a chance to peruse it yet”, as reported by TASR.

Chair of Most-Híd Béla Bugár told Denník N that the discussion was only suspended and that it is an ordinary procedure.

Meanwhile, the opposition commented on the proposal, criticising the fact that the minister wants to disclose nearly everything concerning the purchase.

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