Ljubljana – Senior officials spoke in favour of increased defence spending, including the latest purchase of Boxer armoured personnel vehicles, in the face of heightened security risks at a ceremony Sunday marking Slovenian Armed Forces Day.
“No matter how much Slovenia sincerely strives for the peaceful resolution of all disputes, it may not turn a blind eye to the current tense circumstances,” said President Borut Pahor, the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
He said it was essential for national security that the country have a well trained, equipped and motivated force, and to be a reliable partner in NATO and an active member of the EU.
In recent years “very significant shifts” have taken place in defence policy, he said.
Defence Minister Matej Tonin said the current government had managed to arrest the “staffing free fall” and commence modernisation of the force after a period when the situation was not so good.
Both Pahor and Tonin made explicit mention of the purchase of Boxer vehicles from the OCCAR, the organisation for joint armament cooperation, which was recently finalised and which the incoming government plans to try to repeal.
Pahor said the purchase was “instrumental” for the formation of a battalion battlegroup as the force’s most important capability.
“This need did not arise yesterday, it is based on appropriate expert guidelines. Intensive activities have been ongoing for several years,” he said, adding that the purchase of armoured vehicles could no longer be delayed.
Minister Tonin echoed the view saying the army needed the vehicles to perform the tasks is is required to perform under the Constitution and the law.
It needs them because it is serious about building Slovenia’s defence capabilities in a deteriorating security environment and because Slovenia wants to support Europe’s strategic sovereignty with actions, not just words, he said.
Major General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff, said proper training, equipment and weapons were necessary.
The international security environment is constantly in flux and for Slovenia it is important to be an “equal and reliable partner,” he said.
The Slovenian Armed Forces Day marks the day in 1991 when the training of the first generation of Slovenian conscripts started.