PM Pellegrini halts military purchases before the 2020 election

The Defence Ministry wanted to buy military equipment worth more than €1.3 billion.

Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš (foreground) and PM Peter Pellegrini attend a ceremony togetherDefence Minister Peter Gajdoš (foreground) and PM Peter Pellegrini attend a ceremony together (Source: Defence Ministry)

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer) recently surprised the Slovak National Party, Smer’s junior coalition partner, when at the government's session he refused to discuss three military purchases, the Denník N daily reported.

“Given the current state of public procurement, we shall consider whether to deal with this material at all during this term,” Pellegrini said, as quoted by Denník N.

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Meanwhile, the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) is looking into the tenders.

The Defence Ministry, led by Peter Gajdoš (SNS), has planned to buy the military equipment, including 4x4 vehicles, 8x8 transporters and air-defence radars, for more than €1.3 billion before the 2020 election.

Some proposals ready

Two of the three projects, involving radars and transporters, have already been submitted to the government, and it is up to the prime minister to decide whether the government will debate on them or not.

“I am ready to defend them,” Gajdoš claimed, as quoted by Denník N.

He will probably have to wait. Pellegrini may not intend to put them on the programme before the parliamentary election.

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“As for now, I am not going to put any of the military purchases on the Security Council’s or the government’s tables,” he added, as quoted by Denník N.

ÚVO’s investigation

It remains unknown what exactly is behind Pellegrini’s decision. Nonetheless, Jaroslav Naď of the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) claims that all the three purchases are non-transparent, and the new government should decide upon them, the Aktuality.sk news website reported.

8x8 transporters from the Finnish firm Patria do not meet the required parameters, he added. Besides, the requirements for 4WD vehicles were defined in a way that only one vehicle, which is just an unregistered prototype, can meet them.

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Hence, Naď turned to the ÚVO in July 2019 to have the tender regarding 4x4 vehicles investgated, which is allegedly tailored for the Czech fim Zetor Engineering. The ÚVO later demanded the materials concerning transporters as well.

“We asked the Defence Ministry to provide documents on what steps it plans to take on under the Public Procurement Act and to justify its position,” said ÚVO head Miroslav Hlivák, as quoted by Denník N.

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