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Minister Šarec at the NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting

Slovenian Minister of Defence Marjan Šarec attended the two-day NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting in Brussels. The discussions focused on the war in Ukraine, strengthening the Alliance's deterrence and defence posture, and the upgrading of the commitment on defence spending to be adopted at the NATO Summit in Vilnius in July.

The ministers opened the meeting with a discussion on NATO's support to Ukraine, which also included Ukraine's Defence Minister Reznikov, the Defence Ministers of Finland and Sweden, and the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Earlier, a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group was held to discuss the current military situation in Ukraine and the synchronisation of aid implementation based on the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. "Slovenia will provide humanitarian, material, financial and military aid to Ukraine as long as it is necessary. We must remain united and continue our ongoing support," Minister Šarec stressed at the meeting.

On the second day, the ministers discussed further strengthening the Allies' deterrence and defence posture, burden-sharing and upgrading the commitment on defence expenditure. The implementation of the decisions of the Madrid Summit and progress in the adaptation of deterrence and defence were among the main topics of the meeting. "We endorsed the new Political Guidelines for Defence Planning. The heightened security environment directs us to build credible capabilities, modernise them and strengthen their readiness. We will pay special attention to this in the national framework by strengthening and accelerating investments in priority capability objectives," said Minister Šarec after the meeting.

The Ministers also gave their first views on the expected follow-up to the commitment on defence spending that could be adopted by the leaders at the Vilnius Summit in July this year. "There is a broad recognition that efforts will need to be stepped up to strengthen defence spending in the long term. At the same time, our efforts must be realistic, sustainable and credible," stressed Minister Šarec.

An important part of the meeting was the discussion on efforts to address critical shortages of key munitions as well as broader aspects of strengthening defence industrial capabilities. A growing number of allies are calling for industrial commitment, including the modernisation of national defence industrial strategies. We need to be aware of the growing importance of strengthening our defence industry and increasing national and collective resilience, pointed out Minister Šarec, reminding that the new draft Resolution on the overall long-term programme for the development and equipping of the Slovenian Armed Forces until 2040 also provides for 20% of the annual defence budget to be allocated for investments.

On the second day of the meeting, the ministers also approved the first capacity-building package for BiH and the reinforced packages for Georgia and Moldova. "It is of the utmost importance that we help our partners to further develop their defence capabilities and help them mitigate the potential impact of the war in Ukraine on their systems," said Slovenian Minister of Defence and added that Slovenia particularly welcomes the first package for BiH, as the security and stability of the Western Balkan countries are in our strategic interest.

Before the start of the meeting, a short meeting of the defence ministers of the allied countries participating in the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) mission in Latvia took place.