The US Defence Deal Approved by Slovak Parliament Despite Protests

Photo credit: AP

The disputed Defence Cooperation Agreement with the US, which has proved to be a highly controversial topic in Slovakia, was approved on Wednesday by the Slovak 150-seat Parliament with a majority of 79 votes.

Accompanied by protests outside the parliament, the voting during the plenary session in the National Council, which started on February 8, was preceded by bizarre scenes such as an occupation of the speaker’s desk by the agreement critics and whistling by supporters of the deal.

The debate over the agreement – signed by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Slovakian defence minister Jaroslav Nad on February 3 – was interrupted several times so, after the Defence Minister Naď’s speech, the coalition members voted to end it.

During the debate, several far-right MPs without facemasks blocked the speaker’s desk as the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia’s members were whistling and playing Youtube siren sounds through speakers.

The US Defence Cooperation Agreement envisages Slovakia to grant the US army limited capacities on two military airports for the next ten years in return for $100 million to modernise its airbases Malacky-Kuchyna and Sliac.

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger stressed that the treaty would significantly enhance Slovakia’s security, noting that another 23 NATO members, including Poland and Hungary, already signed a similar deal.

The agreement also has the support of President Zuzana Čaputová, who has already promised to sign it.

However, the deal has faced strong opposition by two far-right parties and the former prime minister Robert Fico’s SMER party that has organized several protests outside the parliament’s building

Fico accused MP’s supporting the deal of treason and demanded that they publicly declare how they voted and hold a referendum on the issue that was also strongly opposed by General Prosecutor Maroš Žilinka, who compared it to the 1969 Soviet occupation.

During the signing ceremony in Washington, DC, Blinken assured Slovaks that nothing in the agreement creates permanent US bases or troop presence in the country and fully respects Slovakia’s sovereignty and laws.

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