Slovenia Approves Army Upgrade Amid Anger Over Covid-19 Surge


Slovenian lawmakers approved an almost $1 billion, six-year plan to upgrade its military that has ignited outcry over the use of funds amid a spike in deaths from coronavirus.

The law will enable the army to buy 53 armored vehicles, a transport plane and two helicopters. The Defense Ministry argues that the 780 million-euro ($923 million) spending plan is key to the military’s survival.

But as total deaths from Covid-19 approach 1,000 in the nation of 2.1 million, opposition parties have called for the money to be spent elsewhere, prioritizing health care. Protesters have also taken to the streets against the government of Premier Janez Jansa over concern about corruption. Jansa was jailed in a graft scandal during his first term in a case that was later overturned.

Jansa, a nationalist leader, returned to power in March. His government has been criticized for failing to do enough to combat the resurgence of the disease.

The last time the Alpine euro-area state bought armored vehicles was during Jansa’s first term in office in 2006. He was convicted in 2013 of accepting a bribe in the procurement process from Finland’s Patria Oyj in a trial he denounced as politically motivated. The Constitutional Court annulled the verdict in 2015.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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