MPs pass long-term resolution on development of armed forces

Ljubljana – The National Assembly passed on Wednesday the resolution on the general long-term programme for the development and equipping of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) until 2035. The document was confirmed by the relevant committee last October, with the procedure being stalled by a request from the opposition Left for a consultative referendum.

The Left is convinced that the resolution is misguided and that the government has not reached a social consensus on the document.

The party believes that the resolution is primarily about cooperation within the NATO and purchasing of new weaponry that it thinks Slovenia does not really need.

However, the remaining parliamentary groups were not convinced by the motion for the consultative referendum and the National Assembly recently rejected it.

Ahead of today’s vote, which saw 44 MPs voting in favour, 24 against and 16 being abstained, only representatives of the Left presented their position, as most of the debate was held at the parliamentary Defence Committee.

Defence Minister Matej Tonin said at the time that the resolution was needed as much had changes since the previous document had been adopted in 2010.

The minister noted the increased unpredictability and uncertainty of the international security environment, and also mentioned the many negative assessments that the SAF had been receiving over the last decade.

Tonin said that the document did not prejudge possible later regulations, as it only indicated the possible direction. It proposes that defence spending be increased to 1.5% of GDP by 2024, followed by gradual growth to 2% by 2035.

The minister noted that the plan was no longer to establish two medium-sized combat battalion groups, but a medium-sized infantry battalion by 2026. The plan is also to strengthen the helicopter and air force component by that year.

The resolution envisages new forms of contractual reserve, with the total peacetime number of troops planned to increase to 10,000 by 2035, with the final ratio of 7,000 permanent members to 3,000 members of the contractual and other reserves.

In the case that it is not possible to secure a sufficient number of permanent and reserve troops, the resolution permits that a reassessment is made of the feasibility of introducing the existing or upgraded forms of military service.

In addition to the Left, the document was also criticised at the committee level by some other opposition parties, which doubted that it could be realised and wondered where the state would get the funds for its implementation.

They did not see a vision for the development of the military, and noted a number of inconsistencies, such as the mixing of strategic and operational content.