Slovenia Sending Observer to Syria
Defence Minister Aleš Hojs explained to the committees that Slovenia had already nominated its candidate for the mission, but admitted that this was done late and that all the slots on the 300-strong mission may have already been filled, due to the massive response of UN members.
The Slovenian observer, who remains unnamed, will be sent to the mission in the first group with an available slot, said Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec. The mission is planned until 30 July, but may be extended.
According to Erjavec, the annual cost per observer is EUR 70,000, a large part of which is refunded by the UN. Answering a question from the opposition, Hojs confirmed that funds for missions abroad are already earmarked in the budget.
The foreign minister stressed that the observer mission was needed because of the continuing violence in Syria, which could not be solved with a military intervention, as this would destabilise the whole region.
With respect to the poor security situation in Syria, some deputies said even more observers may be needed. Opposition Positive Slovenia (PS) deputy Roman Jakič meanwhile called for Slovenia making its own safety assessment for Slovenian soldiers, which the defence minister said had already been ordered.
However, Matej Tonin of the junior coalition New Slovenia (NSi) stressed that no safety assessment could guarantee a soldier's full safety.
The opposition was also critical of the short notice in which the decision had to be taken, which they say is becoming customary of the government, but Hojs said Slovenia had only received an invitation from the UN Secretariat in May and that more could not be done in such short time.