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Informal meeting of EU defence ministers ends in Stockholm

Minister of Defence Marjan Šarec attended the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers in Stockholm, which was hosted by the Swedish capital yesterday and today in the framework of the Swedish Presidency of the EU Council.

The Ministers opened the meeting with a discussion on the Russian military aggression in Ukraine and the continued support and solidarity of EU Member States towards Ukraine. They focused on Ukraine's most urgent military needs, based on a letter from High Representative Josep Borrell and proposals from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Commission (EC) and the European Defence Agency (EDA), which open up possibilities to address the most urgent ammunition procurement needs.

In his opening remarks, Minister Šarec stressed that Slovenia remains committed to further supporting Ukraine with humanitarian, material, financial and military assistance. It also participates in the EUMAM training mission for members of the Ukrainian army. The EU must remain united and continuously supportive, and it should be our ambition and objective to strengthen our joint efforts and to encourage the flow of the necessary military and other support to Ukraine. For this, in the Minister's view, will support Ukraine in continuing its fight against Russian aggression and in protecting its civilian population.

He also stressed that Slovenia supports the EU's efforts to approach the joint procurement of ammunition for Ukraine in particular and that, in Minister Šarc's view, speed and efficiency are essential. The financial resources and the level of member states' willingness to contribute are also crucial, including in the context of the increase of the European Peace Facility limit for Ukraine. At the same time, the EU's common public procurement must be upgraded by strengthening the European defence technological and industrial base, taking into account the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises, which is of paramount importance for Slovenia in particular.

The ministers continued the meeting by taking note of the activities under way within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy, particularly in the field of EU military missions and operations.

The meeting concluded with a discussion on countering the external influence of global actors in different theatres and security environments, where the ministers were joined by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, UN Under-Secretary-General for Missions and Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and representative of the European Parliament's defence committee Nathalie Loiseau. The Minister stressed the importance of strategic partners working together to strengthen resilience and counter hybrid threats, cyber security and disinformation, particularly in the Western Balkans region.

The meeting was also marked by the signing of Slovenia's accession to the PESCO project for a rapid response and mutual assistance unit in the field of cybersecurity, led by Lithuania. By joining this project, Slovenia will be able to improve the development of its own cyber capabilities and security, while contributing to the development of common EU capabilities. As Minister Šarec underlined in the last debate, the constant presence of new threats, in particular hybrid threats, cyber attacks and disinformation, requires strengthening our resilience. We therefore need to improve our cooperation with strategic partners around the world, and especially in our neighbourhood.

On the margins of the meeting, Minister Šarec also met with the Minister of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, Boris Pistorius. The two ministers used the meeting to discuss topical issues and to consolidate bilateral cooperation in the defence and military fields. In October 2022, Minister Šarec and former German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht signed a declaration on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the defence and military spheres, which defined the areas of future cooperation.