Over the last two years we have listened to sounds from the Czech Radio archives going back over eighty years. In this, the last of the series, we look at two of the big events of the last decade - the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO and then, five years later, to the European Union. We start with NATO, which the Czech Republic joined in March 1999 along with Hungary and Poland. In 2002 Prague hosted a major NATO summit, at which seven further Eastern and Central European countries were invited to join. At the summit, President Václav Havel gave
The Czech Parliament has just been hosting an annual session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which serves as a consulting body to the alliance. Much of the debate was devoted to the financing of the armed forces at a time of economic austerity. So how can NATO’s defence capabilities be maintained when member states are cutting their defence budgets? That’s a question Czech Radio’s Pavel Novák put to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
The Czech government’s austerity measures and budget cuts will not affect the country’s commitments towards NATO, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said. Speaking at a session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Monday, Mr Nečas said budget instability would be a greater threat to the Czech Republic’s defence abilities than the fact the country is not spending the required 2 percent of the GDP on defence. The prime minister also vowed that Czech defence spending will not decrease in the coming years. However, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that the levels of defence expenditure by the alliance’s European member states were alarming.
The militaries of NATO member countries should cooperate more after the ISAF mission ends in Afghanistan in 2014, Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Saturday. He stressed that member countries must not give up their own defence at the time of financial cuts. Deeper cooperation would help NATO members retain their military capabilities, he added. The three-day session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which is a counselling body, began Friday. Committees consisting of delegates from the parliaments of allied countries are discussing current security challenges and international affairs.
Some 208,000 people attended the annual NATO Days air show in Ostrava over the weekend, organizers said on Sunday. The air forces of 19 countries took part in the show, including the US Air Force with two strategic bombers B-52, the British RAF with its Red Arrows acrobatic team as well as the Ramex Delta team of the French Air Force. Visitors could also see Czech army’s Gripen fighters demonstrating in-flight refueling..
Thousands of visitors came to see the annual NATO Days air show, which began in Ostrava on Saturday. The air forces of 19 countries are taking part in the show, including the US Air Force with two strategic bombers B-52, the British RAF with its Red Arrows acrobatic team as well as the Ramex Delta team of the French Air Force. Visitors will also see Czech Gripen fighters that will demonstrate in-flight refueling. The NATO Days continue in Ostrava until Sunday.
The Czech Republic will in early September host a major exercise of NATO’s air forces, a spokeswoman for the Czech Ministry of Defence said on Saturday. The air forces of 17 NATO member states will take part in the exercise which will under command of NATO headquarters in Ramstein, Germany. The planes including A-10 and F-16 of the US Air Force will be based at the Czech Air Force base in Náměšt nad Oslavou. The ministry spokeswoman said the event will be NATO’s only air force exercise this year.
The outgoing ambassador to NATO and his successor have strongly warned against continued decreasing of military expenditures in the Czech Republic and other NATO countries. In an interview for the Czech Press Agency Martin Povejšil said he considers the situation very serious and that the allies would be faced with a real danger if member states continue to decrease their spending. Jiří Šedivý, who will assume the post in September, said the Czech Republic will have to offer other quality ways of participating in NATO activities if spending on defence continues to decrease and the presence in Afghanistan is reduced. NATO recommends its member states to spend about 2 percent of their GDP on defence. Military spending in the Czech Republic last year, for instance, amounted to only 1.15 percent of GDP.
Further restrictions of defence expenditures would jeopardize the safety of the Czech Republic, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said Tuesday. Speaking at the Žofín Forum in Prague, Mr Vondra said that soldiers must be properly remunerated for their work and defence should invest only in viable and well thought through projects, particularly with regards to the modernisation of the army. NATO, he said, would in the future be focusing more on defence of its territory and is demanding a minimum contribution of 2% GDP, which the Czech Republic has not fulfilled in recent years. Last year for example, its defence expenditures amounted to 1.15% of GDP.
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