Transcript BEGIN: LtCol Stefan Zemanovic (Chief Spokesperson, Slovak Armed Forces): Ladies and Gentleman (inaudible) we are at the press conference at the occasion of the conference of the heads of the headquarters of Central European countries. First of all I would like to ask General Scaparrotti for his address.
GEN Scaparrotti: (Opening remarks) Thank you and General Maxim, it's been an honor to be here today with you and with the other Chiefs of Defence. Thank you and your staff for organizing this event. EUCOM appreciates the strong alliance between our countries. We are especially grateful for the Slovak Armed Forces’ continued contribution to NATO counter-terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The United States and Slovakia have a long history of cooperation, and Slovakia is an important friend, partner, and ally. Meetings such as this one are another demonstration of Slovakia’s commitment to expanding its defense cooperation with its allies, including the United States. We appreciate Slovakia’s recent confirmation of its commitment to increase defense spending to 1.6 percent of GDP by 2020, with 20 percent of that budget dedicated to modernization. Together, our forces support a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. We admire what this country has achieved as we look back over 25 years of Slovakia’s independence and over the long course of U.S.-Slovakia relations.
This year, as you celebrate the 25th anniversary of Slovakia’s independence, and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia, we celebrate with you and commend your dedication to the values of freedom, democracy and rule of law. Today Slovakia is stable, prosperous and secure. Thanks to its strategic decisions, generations of Slovaks had the courage to create a free and independent country that is firmly rooted in the West.
The United States is proud to support Slovakia, and we look forward to continuing our cooperation and
commitment with you in the future.
GEN Maxim: (Opening remarks) General Scaparrotti, I am very glad that we have an opportunity to organize the regional conference of heads of the general headquarters of the Central European countries.
So let me remind, as you already mentioned, that Slovakia received this opportunity in the historically significant year 2018.
Now we collect not only 100 years since the end of the WWI, which is a date very significant for the majority of the countries participating in this conference.
But we see this opportunity also at the date of a very significant 25th anniversary of the inception of an independent Slovak Republic and its armed forces.
So me together with my colleagues, the heads of the general headquarters of the armed force in Europe, had today an opportunity to discuss the security issue with the representatives of the U.S. armed forces who is represented today by General Scaparrotti as the Supreme Commander of the U.S. forces in Europe. Today's negotiations is not the only forum where I have the opportunity to meet the general. (inaudible) It is a unique opportunity to meet and to discuss the issues together with the other participants of this forum. I personally am very glad by our participation and organization of today's conference. We continued to deepen of mutual cooperation and many significant issues, as for instance, the strategy of transfers of allied armed forces, then plan of maneuvers, or also the common air and anti-missile defense. Once more, let me thank you that you ask Slovakia for cooperation, and I believe that we didn't disappoint you and we contributed to the solution of our common issues.
LtCol Stefan Zemanovic: Ladies and Gentleman, we have some space for several questions.
Reporter: (question) Question from TV station TAC. So you have mentioned (inaudible) about the transfers of the armed forces. I would like to know why the transfer is going to take place and where. This is a question for (inaudible).
GEN Scaparrotti: How would you interpret that Milana - a transfer of forces. Are we talking about partnership and training together.
GEN Maxim: Yeah.
GEN Scaparrotti: If you speak of our partnership and the fact that we, today, discussed training and exercises together. That's a matter of a response to the environment we live in today. The challenges of our environment.
Whether its terrorism, whether it's malign influence, it requires us to work together in the complex world and what we do in the military. The second is that I will tell you as an alliance, NATO, for instance, which you are a member, is the best response in this complex world we live in. Together, we can ensure, as a defensive alliance, the sovereignty of Slovakia as well as all the members of NATO. To do that, we have to plan together, we have to meet
and determine what we need to do together, and we need to train together as well, to be effective.
GEN Maxim: One of the assumptions and reconditions of mutual cooperation is moving from the point a to the point b, which is also the talent of our maneuvers where we have to (inaudible) because each of the countries has its own legislation and we have also to take into account this legislative areas to be able to move them.
Reporter: (question) This question is for both of you by the Slovak radio. It's not only the 25th anniversary of its foundation but in May we will celebrate also the 25th anniversary of sending our troops (inaudible) international crisis management and by the way tomorrow, we will say goodbye to our troops who are leaving for Iraq. In this connection I would like to know how do you evaluate activities of our armed forces in Afghanistan, or as the case may be, in other countries.
GEN Scaparrotti: Well I can say certainly that you've got professional forces that are well-trained and prepared for the missions that they go out and do. They are of great assistance in Afghanistan and Iraq. They bring special skills.
For instance, the training that the Slovak troops do on Russian equipment for the Iraqi forces are specifically asked for by them, and you are one of the countries that is able to give that skill in helping in the mission. Your country, a smaller country, does a lot to provide stability globally, not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but you know that you
served in both EU and UN missions as well, in Africa for instance. All of those are ways, that together,
multinationally, that we help create stability, bring stability, build capacity, outside of our borders and that, in the
end, means protection and stability inside of our borders as well.
GEN Maxim: I would like to answer the other part of that question and it is related to the 25 years of where we take part in the partnership program (inaudible) that means we have a partner army (inaudible) from the state of Indiana. And there have been tons of various activities and we've had very positive results and I think that our activities are very successful and we have also been (inaudible) as one of the best countries in this respect.
Reporter: (question) The question is from the magazine which is called (inaudible) and it is writing to the Central
European countries that have reviewed or they started a (inaudible) to build the military reserves (inaudible). What can you expect from that? Is it possible to create a new model of creating these military reserves and what can we expect from that?
GEN Scaparrotti: Well, as I said up-front, the environment that we are living in today, that we have to respond to, is much different from even 4 years ago or 5. Not only in terms of the challenges that I mentioned earlier, but because of our environment, the speed of information, the connectivity, the use of disinformation, cyberwarfare. So frankly, the character of conflict is changing and we have to change with it. So in that regard, part of this conference and what we do throughout the year is trying to determine how to train and provide a force that is relevant to that environment. I think without a doubt reserves are part of this. 5 or 6 years ago, we looked at conflict probably being
slow to develop and we had some time to prepare and build a force. In today's world, that's not the case, it's going to be quick. And so reserves give a nation the capability to bring our training personnel, but they don't have to be a
member of a standing force. They don't have to be a part of that budgetary expense. So it's another way of ensuring that you can respond in a very serious crisis. And for some countries, it's a sovereign decision. That's a better way of having a force that's prepared by using reserves.
GEN Scaparrotti: Can I say one more thing. I do applaud the increase in budget, the 1.6 percent by 2020 and full 2% by 2024 and the 20 percent modernization that Slovakia has decided on. Because it gives General Maxim the budget that he needs in order to build the force to meet that environment and it's critical.
GEN Maxim: The other question was related to making use of the experience of the National Guard of the state of Indiana here in Slovakia. So the armed forces consists of professionals as well as of the military reserves. And that means that they have their own place and the questions have to be addressed. Some of the situation in Indiana is different (inaudible) we have to make use of their experience (inaudible) and use the experience also with training of our reservists.
LtCol Stefan Zemanovic: Ladies and Gentleman we have spent all the time, thank you for very much for your participation. Generals, thank you for your participation too. END.