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Increase in the defence budget demonstrates Slovenia's credibility in the international environment

Slovenian Press Agency journalist Luka Tetičkovič spoke to Slovenian Defence Minister Marjan Šarec about the defence budget, investments in the defence sector, the manning levels in the Slovenian Armed Forces, and the planned changes in the protection and disaster relief system. We are hereby providing a summary of the interview, published by the Slovenian Press Agency on Wednesday, 12 October.

Minister of Defence Marjan Šarec wants Slovenia to remain a credible partner in the international environment. He therefore hopes that the Slovenian National Assembly will approve the budget, which foresees an increase in the defence budget to 1.44% of GDP in 2024, a part of which will be earmarked for the Slovenian Armed Forces’ equipment and (at the same time) for protection and disaster relief activities. Solutions are also being sought to meet trade union demands.

The draft budgets for 2023 and 2024 maintain the growth of the Ministry of Defence expenditure for both subsystems – defence, and protection and disaster relief. According to the proposal, the 2023 defence expenditure will increase to €976.6 million, which means an increase to 1.36 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). In 2024, it is planned to amount to €1.064 billion, which is 1.44 per cent of GDP. Šarec hopes that the National Assembly will support the draft budget, thus confirming that Slovenia is a serious and credible partner in the international community.

Slovenia's defence system is, however, facing some challenges, including the fact that many troops are insufficiently equiped, which hampers the increase in the combat readiness evaluation ratings, he said when asked when we could expect the combat readiness ratings to increase. One of the fundamental challenges is the manning of the military. "We have addressed this by preparing concrete measures and solutions, and we are working intensively on this matter," he assured.

Šarec also said that from now on, the armed forces would be engaged in the aftermath of various natural disasters more often. "When the national plan is activated, it is foreseen that the military are engaged when the civil protection commander orders so," he explained. "The military have a lot of equipment and other resources at their disposal to help people in the event of natural and other disasters".

As Minister, he also intends to implement the recommendation to reorganise regional civil protection headquarters in order to increase its efficiency. He considers the performance of civil protection on the ground to be good, with firefighters working well with the military and the police. "This year's wildfire in the Karst region has also revealed the need for additional fire-fighting aircraft. To this end, the Ministry will purchase a fire-fighting module for the Spartan transport aircraft, which is still in the process of procurement. In addition, the Ministry of Defence will propose to the Government later this month the purchase of light fire-fighting aircraft, which are better suited to our conditions than Canadair aircraft. They are also much more affordable and, with their 3,000 litre tank, still very effective.