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PM Fico Acknowledges MoD's Stabilization

(October 30) Following his visit to the MoD, Prime Minister Robert Fico paid tribute to Defense Minister Martin Glváč for refusing to put pressure on the Government and the Finance Ministry by insisting on the allocation of 2% of GDP for defense, but instead proposing various projects and solutions, which guarantee the Slovak Armed Forces and the whole MoD survival in times of economic crisis. “To me, the stabilization of the Defense Ministry is very important,” said Fico. Although there are no funds available for significant modernization, PM Fico acknowledged the internal budget measures initiated by Glváč. “Important changes are being introduced - funds, which were previously used for current expenses have been channeled into modernization, research and development. Last year modernization and R&D swallowed 8 % of the total budget. Using the new measures this number has increased to 15 percent in this year only,” explained Fico. Fico also said that he and Glváč had discussed military operations abroad, and confirmed that Afghanistan remained a priority. With respect to the military enterprises under MoD auspices, Fico welcomed the decision to maintain employment in VOP Nováky. Glváč informed the PM on the intention to commence modernizing the existing army combat equipment in the Trenčín Military Repair Works. The topics discussed included the planned changes in the social system of soldiers, the upcoming White Book on Defense, and touched upon the volunteer military service. No military capabilities would be disposed of, said Glváč. “It is our duty to keep those capabilities, which we have today. Acquiring any of them anew in the future would cost twice as much, if not more,” he said.

One (Defense) Step Closer (October 29) There are various coopera on op ons open to Slovakia and the Czech Republic in the area of defense. This statement made by defense ministers Mar n Glváč and Alexandr Vondra was reflected by PMs of both countries - Robert Fico and Petr Nečas - following the intergovernmental mee ng in the Czech town of Uherské Hradiště.

● On Oct. 30 Defense Minister Martin Glváč met admiral William Harry McRaven, the U.S. Special Operations Commander, and Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Europe, to discuss the current topics in special operations. Admiral McRaven recognized the contributions of Slovak troops to the Afghanistan operation. At the conclusion of the meeting Glváč awarded Maj. Gen. Repass the Commemorative Medal. Thereafter both distinguished guests met the Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Peter Vojtek. ● Members of the UNFICYP peacekeeping mission in Cyprus had a unique opportunity to meet in person the Deputy Chief of the General Staff Maj. Gen. Miroslav Kocian, who visited the island on Oct. 28, to inspect the area of the Slovak contingent (SLOVCON) responsibility and under its command. Maj. Gen. Kocian, accompanied by the Commander of Sector 4, Lt. Col. Adolf Uličný, toured the camp of Gen. M. R. Štefánik in Famagusta, and the individual patrol positions. They were briefed on the duties and the specifics of the area of responsibility, the mission mandate and the activities of the permanent UNFICYP reserve force. ● The Air Force Commanders from NATO member states gathered on Oct. 19 at the HQ AC Rammstein in Germany to discuss matters pertaining to the current and future NATO command and control structure. The Slovak Republic was represented by the Air Force Commander, Col. Miroslav Korba. For the second part of the session the commanders were flown to the United States, where they were briefed on the current trends in the U.S. Air Force. The meeting presented an opportunity to exchange experience in addressing problems common to Air Forces of NATO member states.

The more intense coopera on between the defense ministries should make the processes ongoing in the Armed Forces of both republics more effec ve and costefficient. “This is the end to which we need to concentrate all our efforts,” said Defense Minister Glváč. However, as he added, we needed to keep in mind that both countries had gone their separate ways in the last 20 years. “All of which means that we are now influenced by what we had already achieved and what is effec ve for us,” he said. Glváč praised the trouble-free collabora on of the Military History Ins tutes and Military Archives of both countries, and also accentuated the process of forming the V-4 Ba legroup. Defense ministers Mar n Glváč and Alexandr Vondra signed an Implementa on Protocol to the intergovernmental Agreement on Coopera on in the Area of Military Air Traffic Control, which regulates the coopera on mainly in maintaining con nuous defense and protec on of inviolability of the Slovak and Czech airspace within the NATO integrated air defense system (NATINADS). The Implementa on Protocol also allows for the joint training and tes ng of pilots, military air traffic regulators, command structures providing personnel from the Slovak Armed Forces and the Czech Army to NATINADS, as well as troops detached under the na onal command.

● On Oct. 31 the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen Peter Vojtek raveled to Brussels to participate in the EU Military Committee (EUMC) session held at the level of the chiefs of staff. In Brussels Vojtek was joined by the Military Representative of the Slovak Permanent Mission to the EU Lt. Gen. Peter Gajdoš. Main topics of the session's first part included developing EU military capabilities in view of the top-level session of the EU Council planned for December 2013, which will address the defense issues. The second part of the EUMC session concentrated on the ongoing operations and missions carried out as part of the EU Common Security and Defense Policy on Balkans especially targeting the EUFOR ALTHEA operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Chiefs of the general staffs also touched upon the ATALANTA operation and the EUTM training mission in the Horn of Africa.

Indian Pilots On Our Mi-17 Sims? (October 30) The MoD is interested in further developing the military cooperation with India, said State Secretary Miloš Koterec at the meeting with the Minister of State of the Republic of India Preneet Kaur. Slovakia considers India an important partner, and our primary goal is to build on previous bilateral military-technical cooperation. Koterec pointed out that the Slovak arms industry had exported its products to India in the past. “Along with Slovak engineering and minesweeping equipment, which is well-known throughout the world, we also make excellent training equipment, such as the Mi-17 simulator, which could be used by the Indian Air Force in training its pilots,” said State Secretary Koterec.

Troops Helped At Bridge Collapse (November 2) Defense Minister Glváč expressed his sympathy with the families of four construction workers, who had died on Friday when the bridge at Spiš collapsed. The tragedy happened on the All Hallows Day, when the families throughout the country remember their deceased. Defense Minister Glváč praised the Armed Forces for reacting immediately to the tragedy, putting to use military equipment in saving the constructions workers buried under debris. As Glváč pointed out, one of the Armed Forces´ priorities is to assist citizens in crisis situations. Soldiers will remain at the site of the accident for as long as needed. Moreover, other military units are ready with further engineering equipment should it become necessary.

Commemorating The Deceased (October 30) The Slovak Armed Forces members and the civilian Defense Ministry employees met at the Reconciliation Memorial on the MoD grounds to commemorate the fallen soldiers and the deceased colleagues. “Not even in the stress of an everyday life must we forget that we are only mortal; we have to cherish every minute spent in the company of our colleagues and close friends,” said the Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Peter Vojtek prior to lighting the candles at the Memorial. He was assisted by the General Vicar of the Armed Forces Col. František Počurek. The Reconciliation Memorial unveiled on August 28, 1996 is dedicated to all the fallen Slovak soldiers regardless of what side in the war they fought and died on.

Military Graves Remind Us Of Great Moments In Our History lthough there are 37.000 regisA tered military graves in Slovakia, the mortal remains of soldiers fallen in

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the wars of the past appear from time to time all over the country. Under our laws and under the Geneva Conventions military graves date back to the beginning of WW I, to the year 1914. Neither the 1948 Geneva Conventions nor the 1977 Addendum Protocols take into account the nationality of the soldier. Each fallen soldier has the right to have his grave taken care of. Under the law the caretaking duty rests with the municipalities. The Military History Institute administrates only three military cemeteries. Around 60.000 Red Army soldiers are buried in Slovakia, along with tens of thousands Russian and German soldiers from WW I. Slovakia had signed

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a total of 11 intergovernmental agreements dealing with the caretaking of military graves; cooperation with the Russian Federation is still the most intense one. In 2012 the County Museum in Prešov hosted a meeting of representatives from the Visegrad Military Cemeteries Workgroup. Slovakia was represented by the Beskydy Military History Club; the Czech Republic by the Signum Belli 1914 movement; Hungary by the Krajczáros Alapitvány Association; Poland by the Crux Galiciae. Also present were representatives from the Austrian Black Cross organization, the Director of the International Visegrad Fund Petr Vágner, and the leader of the Legie 100 project from the Czech Defense Ministry Pavel Filipek.

Unlike on the Polish side of the Carpathian mountains, in the aftermath of WW I the eastern part of Slovakia did not witness a significant increase in the number of cemeteries and monuments. Most of those were of a temporary nature. Individual, group or mass graves were marked by simple crosses. Cemeteries were encircled by wooden fences or barbed wire. After 1948 the Government lost interest in maintaining the cemeteries. Many were lost forever. A part of them survived thanks to enthusiasts from the Beskydy Military History Club cooperating with the Military History Institute. (More on military cemeteries in the upcoming issue of the MoD monthly OBRANA)

October 29 - November 4, 2012


eBulletin 45/2012 - en