Defence minister signs memorandum with OCCAR on Boxer carriers

Munich – Defence Minister Matej Tonin signed on Wednesday a memorandum with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) that paves the way for the purchase of 45 armoured personnel carriers, just hours after he was authorised to do so and a day before the government is relegated to caretaker role.

The eight-wheeled troop carriers are projected to cost Slovenia EUR 343.4 million including VAT. On top of that, Slovenia will allocate EUR 7.2 million this year to reimburse OCCAR member states for development costs.

After the signing of the memorandum, under which Slovenia becomes a member of OCCAR, OCCAR will sign an agreement on behalf of Slovenia with the supplier of Boxer carriers, the German company Artec.

Tonin wrote on Twitter that this was a historic day. “We’re finally where we should have been 15 years ago. Slovenia is getting top-of-the-line vehicles, which will be used for national defence and collective defence in the framework of NATO.”

The details of the deal will be presented at a press conference tomorrow morning.

The signing of the agreement just before the end of the government’s term has been raising a lot of dust since Tonin announced he would proceed with the deal.

Robert Golob, the incoming prime minister, has urged him to refrain from imposing such long-term commitments on the new government just before the end of the term, to which Tonin retorted that he was actually doing him a favour given that the new coalition will include the Left, a party long staunchly opposed to spending on weapons.

Presenting the new cabinet today, Left leader Luka Mesec said the new coalition was opposed to the purchase and Golob said a normal and good master would not cause damage to the country. He announced the use of all legal means available to “implement our view”.

He noted the incoming government did not support the deal because the circumstances had changed from when the decision on the purchase had been made.