US could give Slovakia $100 million to modernize army, but there’s a catch

The former Slovak prime minister warned that the agreement would allow the U.S. Army to use military facilities free of charge

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Ivan Vilček, Právo
In this Sunday, March 6, 2016 file photo, Robert Fico, the then chairman of the SMER-Social Democracy, smiles after a TV debate after Slovakia's general elections in Bratislava, Slovakia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

The draft agreement on defense cooperation between Slovakia and the United States is disadvantageous for Slovaks and impinges on the country’s sovereignty, the chairman of the opposition Direction–Social Democracy (SMER-SD) party, Robert Fico, has claimed.

Under the agreement, Slovakia could gain about $100 million (€88.4 million) to modernize its defense infrastructure, but the former Slovak prime minister warned that the agreement would allow the U.S. Army to use the nation’s military facilities free of charge, claiming the deal with the United States would take precedence over Slovak laws and Slovak authorities would have limited powers over U.S. soldiers.

For these reasons, Fico will therefore ask MPs not to support the draft agreement, which, if implemented, would be valid for 10 years with one year’s notice.

Minister of Defense Jaroslav Naď, from the populist party Ordinary People and Independent Personalities, has hit back, assuring critics that the agreement is a standard international agreement that fully respects the sovereignty of Slovakia. According to him, Hungary and Poland have concluded similar pacts with the United States.

The General Prosecutor’s Office of the Slovak Republic, however, also opposes the agreement, claiming that it is unbalanced and skewed in the favor of the United States. It argued that any bilateral pact should contain a provision that U.S. soldiers may not enter Slovakia with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.

The agreement has yet to be approved by the Slovak government or receive parliamentary approval. It would then need to be ratified by President Zuzana Čaputová.

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