WASHINGTON: Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and the Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ discussed relations between the two NATO allies and the best way ahead for their bilateral partnership.
The two defense leaders met at the NATO Defense Ministerial last week and continued their conversation at the Pentagon.
The leaders agreed to work closely to enhance defense cooperation through the introduction of a High-Level Defense Group and concluding negotiations on a mutually beneficial Defense Cooperation Agreement soon.
Austin said it was auspicious that the allies were meeting on this day — the 103rd anniversary of then-Czechoslovakia declaring its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the waning days of World War I. “As you know, that declaration was strongly supported by the United States,” he said.
Since 1993, the United States and the Slovak Republic have deepened their cooperation. The nation, which separated from the Czech Republic in 1992, participated in the Partnership for Peace program aiming at NATO membership. U.S. personnel worked diligently with the Slovak military and the republic became a NATO member in 2004.
Since then, Austin noted, U.S. and Slovak personnel have deployed together often. “Our cooperation also includes tackling common challenges like the pandemic and countering hybrid threats,” Austin said. “And I especially want to thank Slovakia for its contributions in Afghanistan. We will always be grateful to the brave Slovak troops who have fought and fallen alongside us. We’re also deeply grateful for your help during our historic recent airlift. This vital humanitarian mission wouldn’t have been possible without our allies and partners — including the support from Slovak military aircraft and forces. The lives that we were able to save together underscore the importance of allied investments and of NATO’s ability to project power.”
The Slovak Republic has doubled its defense spending in recent years and is modernizing its military and enhancing interoperability with NATO allies. “We’re proud to be partners with you on F-16s and Blackhawks,” Austin said. “And we’re looking forward to exploring future defense-industry cooperation in other areas to support NATO’s Capability Targets.”
“We are partners. We are friends. We are allies. And this collaboration between our countries is long,” Nad’ said to Austin. “Since 1993, the cooperation between our countries is really extensive. You have played a key role in Slovakia’s entry into NATO. And you are a key partner and ally in the modernization of our military.”
Nad’ said he looks forward to discussions on defense cooperation and exploring new opportunities for cooperation between the two nations.