Slovenian and Austrian Defence Ministers confirm excellent defence and military cooperation
On this occasion, Minister Šarec once again thanked Austria for its support in dealing with the biggest fire in our history last June.
The purpose of the Austrian delegation's visit was to consolidate the cooperation between the two countries, which has been successful in various fields for several years. Military cooperation is intensive, especially in the framework of training and education, as well as military exercises, and will be upgraded this year, as the bilateral cooperation plan for 2023 is even more ambitious in light of the changing security environment. There are opportunities to deepen the partnership in the areas of airspace surveillance and control and mountain warfare, in cooperation with the Austrian Mountain Training Initiative (MTI) and specialised units and centres of the Austrian Armed Forces. Slovenia is also interested in strengthening cooperation in the field of military heritage, countering hybrid threats and physical-chemical laboratories in the framework of European Peace Facility (EPF) projects.
The two defence ministers also discussed cooperation between the two countries in the EU framework and paid particular attention to the current security situation in the Western Balkans region. As Minister Šarec pointed out, it is understandable that all attention is currently focused on Ukraine, but it is also important not to forget about the Western Balkans, which is facing several challenges. The stability of this region is of utmost importance for both countries. Slovenia remains committed to assisting and supporting these countries in the process of the Euro-Atlantic perspective, and participation in operations and missions is a key part of contributing to security and stabilisation efforts in the region. As the Slovenian Minister said, Slovenia is therefore increasing its contribution to the Eufor Althea and KFOR operations, and is striving for even closer and more effective cooperation with the Western Balkan countries in addressing common challenges in the framework of various regional initiatives.
Slovenia and Austria cooperate closely in the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) initiative, which Austria successfully chaired last year. The two ministers agreed that cooperation in various regional initiatives should provide added value. In this respect, Slovenia welcomes the Austrian project proposal in the framework of the CEDC to establish a Western Balkans Defence Academy, funded by the European Peace Facility (EPF) and providing education based on European values and objectives.
The two delegations also discussed defence reforms, with the ministers agreeing that the events in Ukraine have prompted us to reflect on security and defence investment. As Minister Šarec said, due to the drastically changed international security environment, we are preparing a new defence strategy, updating defence planning and military equipment documents, and increasing defence expenditures.
The last part of the talks was devoted to the situation in Ukraine. Slovenia strongly condemns the military aggression in Ukraine and supports Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, as well as Ukraine's right to self-defence. Minister Šarec informed his Austrian colleague about Slovenia's humanitarian and material aid to Ukraine and help in the treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers since December last year. The Slovenian Government has also recently decided that Slovenia will participate in the EUMAM Ukraine mission in close cooperation with Germany.
You can watch the video clip of the joint statement of the ministers on the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Defense.