NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been in Prague on Thursday for talks with the Czech prime minister and other senior officials. Naturally Russian aggression towards Ukraine has been on the agenda, but the alliance’s secretary general has also been trying to persuade Prague to boost its military spending.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has challenged Russia to withdraw its troops currently lining the Ukraine border. Speaking on a visit to Prague and after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Rasmussen said the around 40,000 Russian soldiers weren’t on an exercise but were combat troops ready for battle. Withdrawal of the troops would contribute to easing tensions and help start talks with Ukraine, he added. Rasmussen added that NATO countries should take more advantage of opportunities to jointly buy equipment since they could not meet all their equipment needs on their own.
NATO should not deploy its troops in Ukraine even in the event of further acts of aggression on the part of Russia, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement for the ctk news agency on Thursday. The prime minister stressed that since NATO’s character and role are essentially defensive the alliance should only respond with military force if one of its member states comes under attack. The statement is in sharp contrast with the view expressed by President Miloš Zeman who has urged the toughest possible EU sanctions and even a NATO military presence in Ukraine should Russia try to annex any other parts of the country. The crisis in Ukraine is expected to be high on the agenda of Thursdays talks with the visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’.
The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is due to hold talks with the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, in a visit to Prague on Thursday. The two men are expected to discuss the country’s role in NATO, the Ukraine crisis and extending a Czech military mission in Afghanistan. A local newspaper reported on Wednesday that Mr. Rasmussen would also deliver a report saying the Czech army would be incapable of taking part in NATO missions unless military spending increased markedly. The Danish politician will also meet Czech President Miloš Zeman and other senior officials.
The general secretary of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is to pay a visit to Prague next Thursday. He is expected to hold talks with Czech government representatives on the further participation of Czech troops in a NATO mission in Afghanistan and summit of the military alliance that is due to take place in the Welsh city of Cardiff in September. NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan concludes at the end of this year, and talks are underway to extend it until 2016.
The Czech lower house has passed a motion rejecting the annexation of Crimea by Russia as a contravention of international law. Deputies also gave their backing to the government in negotiations on a joint European Union and NATO approach to resolving the situation in Ukraine. Of 179 deputies present in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies 16 Communists and one member of Dawn voted against the motion, which came from the opposition Civic Democrats. A proposal from an opposition TOP MP that the cabinet push for economic sanctions against Moscow failed to find support.
Czech armed forces are expected to take part in manoeuvers in Poland with other NATO armed forces from Central Europe, the Baltic States, and the United States, Polish radio said Friday citing a spokesman from the US embassy in Warsaw. Czech general staff said they were not aware of such an exercise being prepared. NATO aircraft have previously been dispatched to Poland and areas bordering Ukraine as a result of the Russian intervention in Crimea. Russian armed forced took part in exercises near the Polish and Ukraine frontier prior to the use of armed forced to take a grip on the previously autonomous region of |Ukraine.
Fifteen years ago on March 12, the Czech Republic joined NATO, a moment which remains a milestone in the country’s history. Czechs had spent some 40 years under Moscow domination and it was the scrapping of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 – and the joining of NATO in 1999 – that cemented the country’s place in the West.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday marked the 15th anniversary of its membership of NATO. Addressing a conference at Prague Castle, President Miloš Zeman criticized the country's low defence spending, and said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine should speed up the establishment of a joint EU defence force. A special guest at the Prague conference is former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who led the security alliance during the Czech Republic’s first years as a member. Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický wrote on Wednesday that NATO membership was the main Czech goal after the collapse of communism and was a significant and symbolic sign that the country had been accepted as part of the West. The Czech Republic joined alongside Poland and Hungary at a ceremony in Independence, Missouri.
Czech president Miloš Zeman has dismissed any resurrection of US plans to construct an anti-missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland by saying it would be ineffective. Zeman’s spokesman said that the head of state was standing by his long held views on Czech participation in a US anti-missile defence system. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain suggested the US revive its plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic and anti-missile base in Poland as reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis. The plans developed under former president George W Bush were quickly dropped by successor Barack Obama soon after he became president. Moscow frequently protested the proposed siting of the missile defence system in Central Europe saying that it was aimed at undermining its defences and not a move to counter so-called ‘rogue states’.
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