A few days ago, the Parliament of Slovenia adopted the Law on allocating funds for investments in the Slovenian Armed Forces in the years from 2021 to 2026, envisaging an investment of 780 million euros for the purchase of modern equipment in this period. However, its realization remains uncertain as the opposition parties are preparing a request for a referendum against the law.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor welcomed the adoption of the law, saying that it constituted an important step toward the modernization of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
“The already ratified amendments to the Law on Defense, which improve one of the conditions for better regulation of the position of members of the Slovenian Armed Forces, alongside the efforts of the Ministry of Defense to ameliorate the personnel structure of the Slovenian Armed Forces, constitute the last step towards further gradual and deliberate development. The Slovenian Armed Forces will continue to ensure the defense and security of our country as their basic mission, and at the same time more effectively support other national security institutions, as well as other systems integral to the citizens of Slovenia”, Pahor said in a press release.
Slovenian Minister of Defense Matej Tonin posted on Twitter that the law “ends the ten-year neglect of the Slovenian Army”.
“The security environment is becoming increasingly uncertain, as recent terrorist attacks in our immediate vicinity reminded us, and all countries are accelerating investments in their security”, Tonin posted on Twitter.
After the opposition started collecting signatures for the referendum, Tonin wrote that “those who oppose the allocation of a percentage of the security budget support the abolition of the Slovenian Army”. He explained that the investments do not provide for the purchase of tanks, but rather of transport vehicles that will provide soldiers with safe transport and protect their lives. He also denied that Slovenia will be procuring combat helicopters, clarifying that it will be purchasing two transport helicopters (also for protection and rescue purposes).
The Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, accused the inciters of the referendum of violating epidemiological regulations. He also stressed that it was clear that the Social Democrats were behind the “Anonymous” movement.
Left MP Luka Mesec posted on social media that Slovenia is currently in the middle of a crisis and that priorities should be set, but the people should also be given a chance to be heard. He accused the government that the new bundle of measures to combat COVID-19 conceals various traps such as penalties for those who protest in any way.
“People could be penalized with a fine ranging between 1,500 and 15,000 euros for posting something on Facebook. This is what this government is doing instead of dealing with the crisis, so it cannot count on a ban on protests and referendums”, Mesec said.
Although the LMŠ has not officially joined the campaign for a referendum on investing in the army, former national security adviser in the government of Marjan Šarec claims on the LMŠ website that, with the same type of armored vehicles purchased by Janša and Tonin, Armenia lost the war with Azerbaijan.
“Under Janša, Matej Tonin only repeats the history experienced by Karl Erjavec. For him, this will certainly not be a farce, but a tragedy”, notes Damir Črnčec, former Secretary of State for National Security and incumbent Advisor to the President of LMŠ Marjan Šarec.
The deadline for collecting 2,500 signatures for initiating the referendum procedure is seven days. If the organizers reach the required number, the Speaker of the National Assembly will then announce a 35-day deadline for collecting 40,000 signatures for the request to call a referendum. However, the government has already proposed to the National Assembly the adoption of a resolution that would rules a subsequent legislative referendum on the issue of investments and modernization of the Slovenian Armed Forces constitutionally unacceptable. /ibna