Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) on Thursday, February 3, signed the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, DC. Slovak Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) also attended the signing ceremony. The agreement, which has attracted loud criticism from opposition parties, will enter into force once it is approved by parliament and signed by President Zuzana Čaputová.
The deal, as signed, contains interpretation clauses submitted by both countries, which confirm their unanimous perception of the agreement, including mutual respect for sovereignty and law, Defence Ministry spokeswoman Martina Koval Kakaščíková commented, as quoted by the SITA newswire.
“Cooperation in defence with the United States has significantly contributed to the successful transformation and modernisation of the Slovak Armed Forces, especially the air force and the special operations force,” said Naď. “Today, we are giving this cooperation an appropriate legal basis. It is an expression of our common commitment, as allies within NATO, to transatlantic security.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recalled that the US and Slovakia have been security partners since 1993, the year that the independent Slovak Republic came into existence. In 2004, the two counties became NATO allies, which took US-Slovak defence cooperation to a new level.
“This agreement [the DCA] makes it easier for our militaries to coordinate on common defensive efforts, like conducting joint training exercises,” said Blinken as quoted by the US Embassy. “It will create more regular consultation between our countries on threats to our people, to international peace and security.”
The Slovak Foreign Ministry noted that the bilateral agreement is the product of negotiations under several Slovak governments since 2018. It creates a legal framework for boosting defence cooperation and for investments in the military.
“The agreement is in full compliance with our interests and efforts as a member of NATO and the EU to reinforce our European security, as well as that of the Alliance,” said Korčok after the signing ceremony, as quoted by the ministry.
The DCA is a standard bilateral agreement between NATO allies that is based on the NATO SOFA agreement of 1951; so far, 23 out of the 30 countries that comprise the NATO alliance have concluded such an agreement with the USA, the ministry points out on its website.
The Slovak parliament will deal with the agreement at a special session on Tuesday, February 8.