The Slovenia Times

Minister Hojs Visiting Troops in Afghanistan


The purpose of the visit is two-fold, Hojs told the STA: to show recognition to all Slovenian troops helping keep peace and order at hot spots around the globe, and to show allies that Slovenia is a serious partner.

He noted that the government had decided that Slovenian soldiers would stay in Afghanistan until the end of the mission in 2014, but the size of the contingent will gradually decrease.

Slovenia currently has 79 troops in Afghanistan but the next rotation in spring 2013 will include 49 soldiers. The focus of operation will shift to the country's stabilisation and reconstruction.

The government is to take its decision about the troops' potential involvement in Afghanistan beyond 2014 based on a corresponding UN Security Council resolution and in accordance with the government strategy, national interests and Slovenia's role in the alliance.

Potential cooperation mulled is through instructors offering specialised military expertise and by boosting civilian development projects. Slovenia pledged to contribute EUR 380,000 annually in 2015-2017 for maintenance of Afghan security forces.

Slovenian troops first headed to Afghanistan in February 2004. Slovenia also sent fire-fighters and civilian experts there. Since 2002 the country has been supporting through various donations equipment of Afghan security forces and has been providing development aid. The funds are to amount to EUR 955,000 this year.

"The mission in Afghanistan is perceived relatively negatively in the Slovenian public, in contrast to the mission in Kosovo, which is supported by the public because it maintains peace and order relatively close to our country. But it must be said that our soldiers, at least in the military sense, contributed much to restoring peace in Afghanistan," Hojs noted.

"On the one hand we have proven to be a reliable partner in the alliance and on the other, we are very appreciated in Afghanistan, at least by the Afghan military. We are in a way the mentors that not only know how to train troops, but also have the right attitude towards the people and the culture."

The Chief of the General Staff, Brigadier Dobran Božič, also told the STA that Slovenia's mission in the country was one of the most successful missions. It is important that Slovenia is present in this part of the world, getting to know other cultures, he noted.

Cooperation with allies is also more intensive and the environment more demanding than elsewhere, Božič said.

According to him, Slovenia will, while bringing down the number of troops in 2013, deploy more special forces. "Special activities are important for the Slovenia Armed Forces and we are practically very good," the chief of the general staff added.

"What will happen in Afghanistan after 2014 is hard to predict, there will of course be need for instructors, but not in the same way there is now... Politicians are probably also thinking about sending more civilian experts, but that is not my topic," Božič said.


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