The Slovenia Times

Slovenia not considering conscription for now

Members of the Slovenian Armed Forces. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

As some European countries have decided to reintroduce mandatory military service in recent years and others are considering the option, Slovenia is "not that far yet", Defence Minister Marjan Šarec says.

Speaking to reporters after a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on 15 February, Šarec said the vacancies in the regular army should be filled first. The hiring situation is improving, but it is not yet possible to speak about a pronounced upward trend.

In 2023, more than 300 new recruitments were recorded for the first time since 2010, exceeding the number of retirements. In addition, there are already around 900 members in the contractual reserve.

So, taking into account the contractual reserve, the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have more than 7,100 soldiers, said Šarec. He believes that changes to employment introduced when he became minister in June 2022 are already producing results.

For one thing, the time between when a job application is submitted and when a new soldier is hired has been cut from around four months to around three weeks.

While admitting that attracting staff to the army "is not an easy job", Šarec is confident that things will be different in a few years' time. "So far it's looking good, I hope it stays that way."

One of the reasons why it is "absolutely premature" to talk about reintroduction of compulsory military service in Slovenia is that they would have to reorganise barracks, which lack space for such a move.

However, conscription is one of the options under discussion, Šarec said. The possibility of reinforcing the army with mandatory reserve and with mandatory military service has been included in the recently presented documents on the country's new defence strategies.

Slovenia abolished compulsory national service in 2003 after the proportion of recruits who opted for military training fell to 10%, with the others choosing civilian service.

Šarec also responded to recent comments by Donald Trump, the most likely Republican nominee in the US presidential election, who said it was unfair to commit the US to defending NATO's 30 other member nations and that he would encourage Russia to attack NATO members that do not meet their financial obligations.

"Slovenia must do its job to be ready to protect its population and its territory, and we are doing that," Šarec said.

This year, 18 of the 31 NATO members will meet the target of allocating 2% of GDP for defence, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Slovenia is not among them, and is expected to spend 1.31% of GDP. Its target is to reach the 2% goal in 2030.

Šarec noted that the increase in defence expenditure had slowed down slightly due to last year's floods, but that it was still increasing in nominal terms.

That is why the SAF modernisation continues along with recruitment. The third component is how to integrate the military into Slovenian society so that it is recognised as one of the pillars of national security and defence, Šarec said.

"If we make an effort to move in this direction, then it will not matter what anyone says abroad, but we ourselves will know that we have done everything we could do to have a trained army," Šarec said.


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