Weapons are smuggled through Slovakia to Azerbaijan, Czech reporters reveal

The airport of Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city, is used as a transit point for smuggling Czech rocket launchers and howitzers to Azerbaijan, Czech reporters have revealed in an article in The Slovak Spectator. The article mentions that taking into account the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, there is a ban on exports of weapons from Slovakia to Azerbaijan, a ban which has factually been violated, The Slovak Spectator reported.

Weapons are smuggled through Slovakia to Azerbaijan, Czech reporters reveal

Weapons are smuggled through Slovakia to Azerbaijan, Czech reporters reveal

STEPANAKERT, APRIL 18, ARTSAKHPRESS:The weapons are reportedly produced by the Czechoslovak Group holding, owned by Czech armourer Jaroslav Strnad, according to Czech Television.

Although the company has denied the claims, shortly after broadcasting report, an employee of the Slovak arms factory MSM spoke up and described how old weapons are re-built in the Trenčín-based company and then transported via Israel to Azerbaijan, the TASR newswire reported.

“The information was leaked after the Azerbaijani army boasted with the weapons of Czech origin in an ad – showcasing the modernized self-propelled gun, the Dana howitzer, with a range of 18 kilometers, and the multiple rocket launcher Vampir, with a 20-kilometre range.”

“The whole process starts with bringing the old DANA howitzer that is disassembled directly in the company,” the MSM employee described to the reporters of the Czech Television, as quoted by TASR – The Slovak Spectator reported.

The MSM employee provided detailed description on the process.

The new facilities, including navigation, camera and communication systems, are sent from Israel, the employee added.

The employee also revealed they signed a contract for distributing 18 howitzers and 15 rocket launchers this year, and the same amount next year, as reported by TASR.

The Czech Defence Ministry said that the intelligence service is monitoring the weapon exports.

Czech reporters contacted MSM holding over the matter.

The company confirmed the delivery of DANA-M1 and RM-70 systems to Israel. However, it refused to provide more details.

The company also rejected any business concerning weapon systems with Azerbaijan.

“The reporters even recorded one such transport on camera. The transport of one rocket launcher started on December 27, 2017, and was carried by a truck from Trenčín to the Bratislava airport, where it was moved to the plane owned by Azerbaijani airlines, Silk Way. It then flew to Tel Aviv in Israel, where company Elbit, who was described as the end customer, resides.

The data then revealed that the plane continued to Baku in Azerbaijan.

“Nothing is unloaded in Israel; there is only a stop to make sure the papers are correct,” the employee of MSM told the Czech Television. “The plane flies directly from the Israeli airport to Azerbaijan.”

Under the current rules, the arms dealers can sell weapons only to countries that are considered safe and where the buyers show the end-user certificate. While Israel meets the criteria, Azerbaijan does not.

The companies belonging to the Czechoslovak Group have tried to receive permission to deliver weapons to Azerbaijan, but failed to receive it both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, TASR reported.

Neither MSM nor the Czechoslovak Group have confirmed that the weapons end up in Azerbaijan.

The Slovak Economy Ministry has asked the licence holder to comment on the information. The company said that the end user and customer was an Israeli company, as its spokesperson, Maroš Stano, told Czech Television.

However, the Economy and Foreign Affairs Ministries are monitoring the situation, Stano added”, the article reads.