At Prague Castle on Tuesday senior Czech politicians addressed a ceremony marking exactly 20 years of the country’s membership in NATO. The country’s prime minister said the alliance needed to be more active in some regards but described membership as crucial, while the foreign minister highlighted the threat posed by Russia.
The Czech Republic is marking the 20th anniversary of its entry into NATO
on March 12th, 1999. It joined the alliance together with Poland and
Hungary in NATO’s first expansion eastwards after the fall of communism
in Central and Eastern Europe. The celebrations, which include gatherings,
debates and exhibitions, are culminating at Prague Castle where President
Miloš Zeman is hosting heads of state, NATO representatives and foreign
Foreign visitors, government officials and NATO representatives have been addressing a security conference held to mark the anniversary. In his speech, Prime Minister Andrej Babis highlighted the fact that NATO membership is in the Czech Republic’s vested interest since it provides a guarantee of security. He said the Czech Republic would meet its commitment to spend two percent of the country’s GDP on defence by 2024.
Speakers addressing the conference cited international terrorism, Russia’s expansionist ambitions and cyber warfare as the main threats facing NATO today.
Among the VIP guests attending the celebrations are the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright who was a leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to central Europe. She is among 14 people who will receive the Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy from Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has invited members of the US Congress
in the "Friends of the Czech Republic" group to visit Prague
after the European elections in May.
He extended the invitation to the bipartisan group, whose members have constituencies with significant Czech communities, on Friday, the last day of his official visit to Washington.
Earlier in the day, Mr Babiš laid a wreath in honour of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, where 184 people were killed when a hijacked plane crashed into the building.
He was accompanied by the US Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, with whom he discussed the joint fight of American and Czech soldiers against international terrorism. They also discussed cooperation to modernise the Czech Armed Forces.
The Czech Prime Minister also met officers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and representatives of major US Jewish organisations.
Czech PM Andrej Babiš held talks with President Donald Trump at the White
House on Thursday.
At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Babiš said he felt that he had
a personal rapport with Mr Trump, and that he had invited him and his
daughter Ivanka to visit the Czech Republic.
He also said that he had appealed to Mr Trump not to introduce new tariffs on trade between the EU and the US, which could harm the Czech Republic. The two also talked about cooperation on matters of defence and security.
The White House meeting was the highlight of the Czech PM’s three-day visit to the United States, which also included a meeting with CIA officials at Langley.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has held talks with the American
President Donald Trump in the White House. It was the first visit of a
Czech prime minister since Petr Nečas met with President Barrack Obama in
The topics on the agenda included American tolls on European cars, security cooperation and the situation in Syria, where the Czech Republic is the only country to have an embassy. At the start of the meeting, Mr Babiš told the US head of state he had a plan to make the Czech Republic great again, hinting at President Trump’s first State of the Union address. He also said the two countries had been allies since the United States helped to establish Czechoslovakia 100 years ago.
President Trump praised the Czech Republic as a creative country, which was doing well economically as well as in other respects.
The White House meeting was the highlight of the Czech PM’s three day visit to the United States, which also included a meeting with CIA officials at Langley.
Moscow will respond to the decision of the Czech authorities not to allow a
Russian Foreign Ministry official to enter the country, the ministry’s
spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
The man, who travelled to the Czech Republic as part of an official Russian delegation to participate in a meeting of the Russian-Czech intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation was refused entry to the Czech Republic "for security reasons". The incident happened on March 4.
Mrs Zakharova said that the “confrontational attack will not remain without an adequate response.”
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš revealed to journalists on Tuesday that part
of his ongoing trip to the United States will involve visiting the CIA
headquarters in Langley.
Now the Czech daily Lidové Noviny writes that a Czech Intelligence source said that Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) cheif Michal Koudelka has also flown to Washington and will accompany Mr Babiš on his CIA visit. Official BIS channels refused to comment, but the newspaper says that a US source has confirmed the information.
The visit to Langley is not part of Mr Babiš's official programme, whose main highlight is a meeting at the White House on Thursday with President Donald Trump.
After a four-year break, Prague City Hall will once again join the Flags for Tibet initiative, expressing support for Tibetan independence. On Wednesday Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib is also set to meet with the head of the Tibetan government in exile, Lobsang Sangay, who is in the Czech capital to attend the One World Documentary Film Festival.
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