Talks with Germany on military gear swap continue

Brussels – Defence Minister Matej Tonin acknowledged Tuesday that talks with Germany for a swap under which it would sent Yugoslav-era tanks to Ukraine in exchange for more modern German armoured vehicles have stalled, but he said negotiations were continuing.

“Slovenia has done its part. The equipment we intend to send to Ukraine is ready for transport. We’ve notified the Germans in writing what kind of equipment we want, now we’re waiting for feedback from the German side,” he said in the sidelines of an EU defence ministerial.

He said Slovenia was interested only in “modern equipment which the Slovenian Armed Forces can actually use in the next ten to fifteen years.”

His comments come in the aftermath of reports in German media suggesting Slovenia wanted equipment that Germany could not hand over, with Der Spiegel recently quoting a confidential German Defence Ministry document as saying that Slovenia did not want “ancient” German systems.

The magazine said Germany was offering Marder and Fuchs armoured personnel carriers, whereas Slovenia wanted the more modern Leopard 2 tanks and Puma and GTK Boxer armoured vehicles.

Tonin said he talked to his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht but did not reveal the exact content of the conversation.

The minister also claimed he was quizzed by his counterparts about the announcement by the incoming government that it would terminate the recently concluded agreement on the purchase of Boxer armoured vehicles from the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).

He said he had not wanted to broach the subject but they expressed “concern,” to which he replied that the new government would have to answer these questions.

“Things are clear, we need these vehicles. Any other decision would isolate Slovenia in a way, trigger a lot of unnecessary questions, and strongly undermine our credibility,” he said.

One major item on the agenda of the ministerial was the decision of Sweden and Finland to request NATO membership. Tonin said this was a strategically important move for the two countries and NATO as a whole, convinced that a way will be found so that they can become members despite Turkey’s apprehension.