NATO Secretary General talks Smart Defence in Slovakia
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Slovakia on 19 May for talks with national leaders, with Smart Defence at the top of the agenda.
“Freedom doesn’t come for free, and we have to invest in security and freedom,” the Secretary General said, adding, “We need to find new ways to build security that cost less money.”
The Secretary General praised Slovakia’s commitment to NATO in meetings with Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, President Ivan Gašparovič, Speaker of Parliament Richard Sulík, Foreign Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, Defence Minister Ľubomír Galko and Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic.
“I appreciate very much that Slovakia has stayed committed to our operation in Afghanistan despite all economic challenges. That contribution is a strong testimony to Slovakia’s commitment to our Alliance and shared security,” Rasmussen said.
Slovakia has around 300 soldiers serving with ISAF in Afghanistan.
In his meetings, the Secretary General discussed the full range of issues which are of concern to NATO and Slovakia, such as current operations, including Libya; NATO reform; and relations with key partners such as Russia.
The main focus of discussions was Smart Defence – a concept which encourages nations to maintain and improve their capabilities despite the financial crisis by making better use of resources.
“I would urge all Allies to focus on three elements: first, stay committed to participation in our international operations. Second, continue to modernise your military with a view to making it more deployable and more oriented towards high-tech military equipment. Third, cooperate with others with the aim to pool and share resources so that you can together afford to acquire the necessary capabilities,” the Secretary General said.
As good examples of Smart Defence, Rasmussen pointed to Slovakia's NATO-accredited Centre of Excellence in Explosive Ordnance Disposal, which was inaugurated on 17 May, and its membership of NATO projects such as the Allied Ground Surveillance initiative and the Multinational Logistics Coordination Centre in Prague.
At the end of his visit, the Secretary General gave a speech entitled “NATO – value for security” to students in Bratislava. The speech was broadcast live to students in the Czech Republic, as well as on the internet.
“Smart Defence is about nations building greater security – not with more resources, but with more coordination and coherence,” he said.