Slovakia meets NATO defence spending commitment for first time

With the war in Ukraine, the state needs to ramp up its defence spending, the prime minister admits.

In March 2021, Slovakia hosts the Saber Strike 22 military exercise.In March 2021, Slovakia hosts the Saber Strike 22 military exercise. (Source: Sme - Marko Erd)

Slovakia has fulfilled its commitment towards NATO regarding defence spending in advance, according to the Finance Ministry.

The ministry's state secretary (deputy minister) Marcel Klimek noted that Slovakia has met its commitment to spend 2 percent of its GDP ahead of schedule, in 2020 and in 2021.

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NATO member states made a commitment at the 2014 summit in Wales to spend at least 2 percent of their respective GDPs on defence by 2024. In the years that followed, however, Slovakia has had problems fulfilling this commitment, and lagged behind with the modernisation of its armed forces.

In 2021, the expenditure on defence reached €1,95 billion, which represented 2.1 percent of GDP for that year, Klimek reported.

"The current government is the first one to have met Slovakia's commitment towards NATO, even ahead of schedule," Klimek wrote.

In the coming years, however, the state budget had counted on a defence expenditure of 1.8 percent GDP, the TASR newswire wrote. Following the extraordinary EU summit in Versailles, PM Eduard Heger (OĽANO) said that Slovakia will need to revise its budget and increase defence investments, in light of the war in neighbouring Ukraine.

"Leaders are saying that it is necessary to fulfill the commitment of spending 2 percent GDP on defence. Some countries have admitted they have not been meeting this commitment, but they realise it is very important," Heger said following the summit, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

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One notable modernisation project is the exchange of Slovakia's fighter jets. The currently used Russian-made and Russian-serviced MiG-29 jets should be replaced with 14 fighter jets made in the USA. The government of Robert Fico approved the purchase of F-16 Block 70/72 for €1.6 billion in 2018.

The producer announced last week that due to shortages in supplies, the planes will come approximately one year later than planned, in 2024.

Meanwhile, the Slovak government has approved the arrival of NATO troops within the so-called enhanced forward presence. They will bring defence technology with them, notably the Patriot air protection missile system.

Slovakia officially joined NATO on March 29, 2004, alongside Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.

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