The Slovenia Times

Slovenia Offers Patrol Boat to UNIFIL


"Ban Ki-moon thanked for Slovenia's troop contribution to international operations, and in response to his question I assured him we will consider lifting our national caveat for the Golan Heights. As you know we restricted our troops movement over Syria," Jakič told reporters after the talks.

Jakič, who first met Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous, and Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support Ammerah Haq, said that Slovenia would like the Triglav to join the German fleet in the UNIFIL mission for six months, which Ban heartily welcomed.

Jakič pledged Slovenia will settle its debt to the UN peacekeeping operations budget. "There's the fee issue. We'are paying it regularly, but there's a debt from before that Slovenia will settle in accordance with its financial capabilities," he said, rejecting the speculation that Slovenia could lose its voting rights over the issue.

Jakič is planning a visit to the Slovenian troops in the KFOR mission in Kosovo before Christmas, while talks are also underway to visit troops in Afghanistan. "If the UN Security Council decides to adopt the resolution on Afghanistan beyond 2014, this will be an extra help in advocating participation by countries, including Slovenia, in case it decides to participate in ISAF under the UN flag."

Jakič said that Slovenia was not reducing its troop deployment under the UN flag because of the crisis, and that everyone was downsizing troops in Afghanistan. Slovenia will keep only two soldiers there after June 2014. By April the rotation will be cut down to 25 troops.

"Considering that our priority is the Western Balkans, we will remain there with the largest number of troops, that is 300," said the minister, who also told reporters that the Western Balkans was in the focus of talks with the UN Secretary general.

Jakič will continue his US trip in Washington today and on Wednesday for meetings with US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, when he expects to learn more about the ISAF mission in Afghanistan beyond 2014, while Hagel is also likely to ask about Slovenia's views on the Western Balkans.

"My message to colleague Hagel will be what I already said at the latest NATO ministerial; that is fulfilling what the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the alliance's last summit. She said it was the last summit without enlargement on the agenda.

"We are a big advocate of enlargement mainly to Montenegro and Macedonia, should the name dispute [with Greece] be resolved by then," Jakič said, reiterating the importance of enlargement for stabilisation of the situation in the Western Balkans.

The minister also expects the defence budget to come up, but he does not believe it would be serious for any of his counterparts to propose an increase in defence spending at the time of the strained financial situation. He said that budget cuts would never affect how well Slovenian troops are equipped or safe.


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