12. 03. 2019 12:22
The Defence Ministry announced on Monday that it would no longer participate in talks on receiving financial help as part of a Defence Cooperation Agreement with the United States, as the agreement would put Slovakia's sovereignty into jeopardy. According to the ministry, the offer put forth by the United States doesn't reflect the operational requests of the Slovak Armed Forces.
The Foreign Ministry was caught by surprise by the decision of the Defence Ministry, as it was made without any prior consultations or talks within the National Security Council or at the coalition level, the Foreign Ministry's press department informed on Monday. "Despite the fact that it's a cardinal decision, with extensive foreign policy and security consequences, the step is all the more bewildering in light of the fact that it was the Defence Ministry that reached out to the Foreign Ministry to hold talks on the agreement on behalf of the Slovak Government and with the participation of several ministries," reads the text.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the talks with the United States haven't been concluded, and the final version of the deal was to be shaped by the Slovak side. The Foreign Ministry pointed out that the aim of the talks is to submit to the Government and Parliament a draft of the deal, designed to enable the use of finances under terms acceptable to Slovakia. The ministry also warns that the Defence Ministry's announced decision to withdraw from the talks could spell the end of the entire negotiation process with the United States on the co-operation agreement. This would make Slovakia the only NATO member state to reject such a deal.
Besides threatening that junior coalition member Slovak National Party (SNS) would quit the governing coalition, Parliamentary Speaker Andrej Danko also said that if talks on the offer continue, this will initiate a resolution in Parliament. This would likely bring the talks to a halt, as it did in the case of the UN Global Compact on Migration.
The Government led by Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) would never take steps consenting to the presence of foreign troops on the territory of the Slovak Republic, the premier told reporters in Paris. He said this in response to the cancellation of defence cooperation negotiations with the United States, stressing that nobody is planning for the presence of foreign troops in Slovakia. Pellegrini considers it necessary to respect the moods and opinions in society, since Slovakia has had similar experiences in the past. However, he regards the Slovak National Party's ultimatum that "if anything like that happens, we'll immediately leave the ruling coalition" to be unnecessary. "No one is holding talks or has been holding talks on the presence of foreign troops," stated the premier. Commenting on the issue of drawing from NATO funds, he said that such funds have been used in the past in the same way, to reconstruct Sliač Airport.