The Slovenia Times

Defence Minister Nominee Katič Confirmed by Committee


Katič wants to boost the readiness of the Slovenian Armed Forces to act in line with the security and foreign policy and the readiness of the protection and rescue system for disaster response.

The defence system and the civil protection and rescue system needs stable and predictable financing, she argued, noting that only EUR 366m or 0.95% of Slovenia's GDP had been earmarked for defence for this year, which was well short of the commitment given to NATO.

The constant shrinking of the defence budget affects the functioning of the Slovenian Armed Forces at home and in international missions, as there is less training, among other things, the candidate also stressed.

The vehicle fleet of the Slovenian Armed Forces also needs to be modernises, as the average age of vehicles is 12 years, Katič said, adding that Slovenia should increase defence spending to 2% of GDP.

Asked by deputies of the opposition Democrats (SDS) whether she was pro-Russian or pro-Western, Katič said that Slovenia was a member of NATO and the EU.

Regarding the Ukrainian crisis, she meanwhile said that Slovenia condemned any violation of the country's territorial integrity.

Katič agreed that soldiers' wages were very low and that too many soldiers were on fixed-termed contracts, which is why she will pay a lot of attention to staffing issues. She also assessed that the defence system as a whole was understaffed.

Regarding the status of soldiers who are older than 45, she said that they should be given an opportunity to be re-trained for other jobs within the public sector, primarily in security and logistics. Hiring in the private sector could also be facilitated with adequate incentives.

Katič has been nominated to replace Janko Veber, who was dismissed by parliament in early April for ordering the military intelligence service to analyse the implications of the planned sale of telecoms provider Telekom Slovenije to a foreign buyer.

In the presentation, she told the committee that the military intelligence service must work within the regulatory framework, and must be under constant supervision of the relevant parliamentary commission.

Katič said that, on the basis of the available documentation, it was not possible to claim with certainty that Veber had done anything illegal. She personally believes that her party colleague acted for the good of the state.

But the candidate stressed that it was the military intelligence service that had failed to do its job, and announced that she would "accept a resignation of the director" of the intelligence service Gorazd Rednak.


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