Slovenia’s defence spending still among lowest in NATO

Brussels – Slovenia is still among the NATO countries with the lowest defence spending. It ranks 25th in terms of efforts to have 2% of GDP allocated for defence and 26th when it comes to defence investments, Defence Minister Matej Tonin said in Brussels on Thursday as a two-day NATO ministerial drew to a close.

NATO defence ministers, meeting to discuss the Russian threat to Ukraine, also reviewed the implementation of the key defence goals of the alliance, which Tonin said had been very unpleasant for Slovenia.

NATO countries committed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to raise their defence spending to 2% of GDP in ten years and to spend 20% of defence funds on investments.

According to the latest data, Slovenia’s efforts towards achieving these two goals put her on the 25th and 26th place within the alliance, respectively. “So much about the much talked about excessive spending of Slovenia, of which we hear at home,” Tonin said.

This year, Slovenia will allocate 1.3% of GDP for defence and in 2023 and 2024 this will rise to 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. Nine NATO countries already meet the 2% goal and about half of them expect to reach it in 2024, he said, adding that “unfortunately, Slovenia will not be among them”.

Ministers stressed during debate in Brussels that it was not fair that economically weaker countries were paying for the security of the economically stronger countries. “Solidarity is not without limits,” he said.

As for the goal of having 20% of defence money spent on investment, Slovenia has made significant progress in the past five years, increasing the share from just 5% to 17% last year. This year, this is to rise to 22% and next year to 23%, Tonin said.

He noted that NATO charts showed somewhat different figures as data was collected in October when Slovenia was still in the process of passing the budgets.

Last June, Slovenia’s defence spending amounted to 1.28% of GDP, which was among the smallest shares in NATO, and allocated 15.7% of defence funds for investment, which was the lowest share of all NATO countries.

Asked whether US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin commented on Slovenia’s defence spending at a bilateral meeting, Tonin said Austin had noticed Slovenia’s efforts.

He said Austin had acknowledged that the Slovenian government had achieved a lot in this term and that progress was visible. He also expressed the wish for Slovenia to continue on this path.