Outgoing defence minister stands by armoured vehicles deal

Ljubljana – Outgoing Defence Minister Matej Tonin was adamant on Wednesday the planned EUR 343.4 million purchase of 45 Boxer armoured vehicles through OCCAR would be wrapped up before the new government takes over. Tonin invited the presumptive PM-designate Robert Golob, who has urged him not to sign long-term arms contracts, to a presentation of the deal.

After coming under fire from Golob’s likely coalition partners the SocDems and the Left and being called by Golob “to refrain from signing long term arms purchase contrast given that a new government will be formed in a few months, Tonin invited Golob to visit the Defence Ministry.

“Given the circumstances, I am doing a favour to Mr. Golob, since he will not have to deal with these things and argue with coalition partners, but will be able to blame me for the purchase,” Tonin told the press in Ljubljana.

Responding to those accusing the government of rushing the deal, Tonin argued the signing of the contract was part of “completely normal running affairs”.

“I find it important not to create drama over this and put pressure on me not to sign, since I’m obliged to sign on the basis of the decision of the government and the National Assembly. The Slovenian military and the country need the Boxers given the circumstances and given that we have a military and want to strengthen it,” he said.

“If the Boxer vehicles are good enough for the Germans, the Dutch and the British they are also good enough for Slovenians. We are also supporting the European defence industry with this acquisition, which is not negligible given the circumstances,” Tonin added, while stressing the vehicles were being bought for a 20- to 30-year period.

He is confident EUR 343.4 million is a very good price, especially when considering that the prices of material are rising.