Priorities of the new Slovak government in the field of defence and security

 04. 12. 2023      category: Events
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The new government of the Slovak Republic received the confidence of the Parliament on Tuesday, 21 November, and nothing prevents it from governing the country for the next four years. The new Slovak government's vision and plans for the coming term are defined in the government's programme statement, which also includes details on defence and security priorities.

Foto: Vize a plány nové slovenské vlády na nadcházející volební období definuje programové prohlášení vlády včetně priorit v oblasti obrany a bezpečnosti. | Michal Pivoňka / CZ DEFENCE
Picture: The vision and plans of the new Slovak government for the upcoming electoral period are defined in the government's programme statement, including priorities in the field of defence and security. | Michal Pivoňka / CZ DEFENCE

"Better, more peaceful and safer living" is the name of the fourth government of Robert Fico's programme statement for 2023-2027. The new government has set as its key goals to build Slovakia into a modern and efficient state with social security, a competitive business environment and public confidence in justice and the rule of law. In addition, the government wants to ease social tensions, improve education and health care, and promote sovereignty, patriotism and national traditions. In addition to these and many other topics, the programme declaration does not omit the area of defence and national security. For this area, the government defines short- and medium-term goals.

Short-term goals

In the chapter "Security Policy", right at the beginning, the new government cabinet declares that in the context of the current security situation in Europe, the government must also focus on the readiness of the Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic (AF SR). As part of its short-term goals, the fourth government of Robert Fico wants to fight illegal migration also with the help of those components of the AF SR that can be involved in solving crisis situations at the civil-military level. The involvement of selected parts of the Slovak Armed Forces in the fight against illegal migration is to be carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of the Interior.

Furthermore, the Government of the Slovak Republic has set as a short-term priority the restoration of the air defence of the Slovak Republic, which, according to the Government, has been significantly weakened by the donation of air defence systems to Ukraine. The ideal situation will be achieved when the Slovak Air Force is able to provide airspace protection over the territory of the Republic on its own.

The government also included in its short-term priorities a plan to stop military aid to Ukraine from the Ministry of Defence's stocks. Humanitarian and technical assistance will continue. Last but not least, in the short term, the government aims to rationalise the organisational structure of the Ministry of Defence and, where possible, to carry out acquisitions of armaments together with other security services. In addition, the contractual basis concluded by the previous government will be reassessed and, in the event of Slovakia's disadvantageous position in contractual relations, the new government will open negotiations with foreign partners to remove such a position.

Medium-term goals

In the medium term, the Government of the Slovak Republic proclaims that it will continue to modernise the military equipment of the Slovak Armed Forces, despite the poor state of public finances. At the same time, however, it warns that socio-economic priorities will not allow the government to spend more than 2% of GDP on defence.

In the ongoing modernisation of the Slovak Armed Forces, the government wants to focus primarily on protecting soldiers' lives through greater use of unmanned aerial vehicles, robotic reconnaissance systems and other defence tactics. An ambition in the medium term is also to create a fund for building and developing defence infrastructure. According to the government cabinet, there is also a need to focus on motivating people to join the Slovak Armed Forces in order to stabilise the army in terms of personnel. The resources from this fund will be used for the development of the civil infrastructure of the state, which is also used to a large extent by the Slovak army. There is also to be a more significant development of the engineer army, in the context of the growing number of crisis situations. The programme declaration also admits a possible change in the deployment of F-16 aircraft from the Sliač base to the Kuchyni military airport.

The new government perceives that Slovakia may be exposed in the future, in the context of the current security environment, not only to local but also to a larger regional conflict. It is therefore essential that greater emphasis be placed on the development of individual national defence capabilities, as a larger regional conflict may affect the territory of several states and make the application of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty more problematic. This is also linked to the aforementioned modernisation of the armed forces, which the government intends to implement primarily in cooperation with domestic manufacturers of military and defence equipment, possibly at V4 level. The government also wants to actively support the domestic defence industry and increase its competitiveness on foreign markets through active cooperation. In this context, the Government intends to introduce regular meetings with representatives of the domestic defence industry and interest organisations.

Long-term goals

The long-term priorities of the new Slovak government in the field of defence are focused primarily on further personnel development of the Slovak Armed Forces and international cooperation in the field of defence and security. The Slovak government will recall the need to fight international terrorism and illegal migration, which pose a security risk to Slovakia and the EU, in the framework of its membership in international organisations. During the four-year term of office, the Slovak government intends to renew cooperation and active communication within the V4 in order to promote the interests of the V4 member states more effectively at the international level.

 Author: Mgr. Otto Dóka

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