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Slovak cabinet will not stop sale of arms to Saudis unless Europe does

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has failed to publish on its website any official statement concerning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Illustrative stock photo(Source: TASR)

Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has not yet published any official statement regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey in early October.

It did say that it condemns the act but only after receiving questions from the Sme daily.

Slovakia could show its condemnation of the act by banning the supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia. The country is one of the biggest receivers of discarded Slovak weapons, many of which, according to the 2016 findings of investigative journalists, it gives to militants, Sme wrote.

The Slovak government has failed to say whether it will embargo the export of weapons. The Foreign Affairs Ministry told the daily that they are waiting for the decision adopted by the European Union. A similar statement was voiced by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer) who said on October 26 that if the EU decides to stop the exports, Slovakia will join in.

Slovak weapons probably end up in rebels’ hands

Saudi Arabia has started purchasing weapons more actively in the past few years. In 2017, it even became the biggest importer of weapons in the world. They are used by its army in the civil war in Yemen, but Saudi Arabia has been criticised for attacking civilian targets.

Read also:Amnesty International: Stop arms deliveries to Israel

Experts on trade with weapons agree that Saudi Arabia does not need army material imported from the former members of the Soviet Union, including Slovakia. They most probably end up in the hands of rebels in Syria, as well as war zones in Yemen and Libya.

Between the years 2013 and 2017, Slovakia has sent weapons worth more than €10 million, according to the Economy Ministry’s reports, Sme wrote.

However, the total volume of licences on weapon exports is much bigger. The country has so far granted licences worth more than €93 million. It is not clear to what extent they have been used since the ministry used to state only the volume utilised in a respective year, Sme wrote.

Then-PM Robert Fico (Smer) commented on the exports in 2016, saying that a weapon is a business product, like anything else.

Since then, the Economy Ministry has not granted any export licences to Saudi Arabia. It failed to say why, Sme wrote.

Kaliňák received a bike

Read also:Weapons are smuggled through Slovakia, Czech journalists reveal

Though there are not many meetings between Slovak and Saudi Arabian governmental representatives covered by the media, former interior minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) has often facilitated security agreements between Slovakia and the United Arab Emirates, a neighbour of Saudi Arabia that often collaborates with them in various international matters.

Back in January 2018, Kaliňák received a motorbike from his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates. The machine, worth nearly €200,000, was tailored in the Slovak colours.

“We have built a relationship over the past years and this was an expression of our mutual respect,” Kaliňák said back in June, as quoted by Sme. “It probably works this way there.”

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