The Czech Republic’s defence minister, Martin Stropnický, has something of a political storm on his hands, following an interview in which he suggested it would be problematic for NATO forces to be stationed in the Czech Republic. The minister made the mistake of comparing the situation to 1968, when Soviet troops invaded the country, raising the ire of both the prime minister as well as the centre-right opposition. He has since backtracked but the damage was effectively done.
The Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday passed a declaration stating the Czech Republic regards NATO membership as a basic pillar of its security policy and is prepared to fulfil all commitments arising from its membership. The declaration was proposed by the minister of defence, Martin Stropnický. Earlier this week he sparked opposition criticism by telling the Reuters news agency that the permanent presence of NATO units on Czech soil would be a problem for a significant part of the population in view of the occupation by Soviet troops in the past.
The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, has denied suggesting that the Czech Republic would not support the stationing of NATO troops on its territory. Mr. Stropnický made the statement in the lower house on Tuesday, a day after an interview carried by the Reuters news agency in which he said the permanent presence of NATO units on Czech soil would be a problem for a significant part of the population in view of the occupation by Soviet troops in the past. The interview was conducted in connection with the increased presence of NATO troops in member states because of the Ukraine crisis. The coalition partners blocked opposition efforts to force a debate on Mr. Stropnický’s comments
The equipment on the face of it looks very impressive, but Czech defense company Era has achieved a notable success with its start of the art detection system winning a prestigious order from NATO in Brussels against competition from companies from across the alliance. And company bosses say that sort of recognition say will a long way to jumpstart more orders.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and president, Miloš Zeman, agreed at a meeting on Wednesday that the country should halt a fall in spending on defence. Mr. Sobotka said otherwise the Czech Republic would not be able to fulfil tasks arising from its membership of NATO. The two leaders also discussed the coordination of positions regarding foreign policy and economic diplomacy. On a visit to Prague recently the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, called on the Czech military spending was too low. The military alliance wants members to spend the equivalent of 2 percent of GDP on defence; the Czech Republic puts just over 1.1 percent into defence and reduced spending in that area under the last government.
American Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday spoke to the premiers of the Czech Republic and Hungary about developments in Ukraine, assuring them of the United States’ commitment to collective defense under NATO’s Article 5, which stipulates that an attack against one member of the alliance is an attack against all. The Czech News Agency reported that Mr Biden spoke for 45 minutes over the phone with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, discussing new sanctions against Russia for failing to withdraw troops on Ukraine’s border and for failing to de-escalate tension in the area as agreed in talks in Geneva. The two also discussed the situation of OSCE observers - including a Czech national - being held captive by pro-Russian separatists. The Czech Foreign and Defence Ministries are working with partners to try and secure the observers’ release. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999; Article 5 was first invoked in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
The Czech Republic is ready to offer the services of 300 soldiers and four Gripen fighter jets for the protection of NATO members Defence Minister Martin Stropnický announced on Thursday evening in light of the continuing crisis in Ukraine. The announcement came after NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced a bolstering of alliance country defences a day earlier, including fighter jets and sea power in the Baltic as well as the east Mediterranean. The NATO head and other top officials have sharply criticised the amassing of troops by Russia on the Ukraine border. In talks in Geneva on Thursday, Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the US agreed to steps aimed at de-escalating the situation. The steps were welcomed cautiously by the White House which is waiting to see how the deal translates on the ground.
Czech president Miloš Zeman believes that Ukrainian authorities should negotiate with representative of the Russian speaking population in the east of the country to avoid widespread violence and lay the foundations for stability in the country. Groups calling for parts of the country to be ceded to Russia have occupied key buildings in several towns and cities with an ultimatum running out on Monday for them to leave. At least two people have been killed in the latest clashes. President’s Zeman’s opinions were communicated by his spokesman, Jiří Ovčaček, in a news briefing on Monday.
NATO should take steps such as deploying forces to the Baltic States and Romania and stepping up the naval presence in the Black Sea to signal the alliance’s concern about further Russian intervention in Ukraine and signal that it was unacceptable, according to the Czech head of state. His spokesman Jiří Ovčaček said some media had misinterpreted the president’s previous comments as calling for NATO military intervention in Ukraine to counter any new moves by Russia there. That was not the case but at the same time the example of the Soviet-led invasion of then Czechoslovakia should not be forgotten, the spokesman said.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives
Czech teenager builds second-largest ever Millennium Falcon LEGO model
Press: Era of 100-crown lunch special is over, as food prices rocket
Misha Glenny: Organised crime is an important part of Czech economy – and corruption is its twin sibling