The head of the smallest party in government, the Christian Democrats, has criticised Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka for saying the Czech Republic would not be calling for more NATO troops in Europe. The premier made the comment following US President Barack Obama’s pledge in Warsaw to put an extra one billion US dollars into defence in Eastern Europe.
President Zeman has weighed into the debate about Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s comments that he saw no need for more NATO troops in Europe. The head of state said he regarded Sobotka’s comments as a ‘mistake’ and any increase of US troops in Europe would be symbolic and would not bother him. The head of state pointed out that Sobotka did not have much experience of foreign affairs and would have to learn from his mistakes. The Czech prime minister’s comments followed US president Barack Obama’s pledge in Warsaw on Tuesday to commit more troops to Central and Eastern Europe in response to tensions in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. President Zeman is also in Warsaw to mark the 25 anniversary of free elections which presaged the fall of the Communist regime.
The head of the smallest party in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats, has hit out at Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s statement that the Czech Republic would not be calling for more NATO troops in Europe. The Christian Democrat’s Pavel Bělobrádek said Mr. Sobotka’s comments were completely unacceptable and irresponsible. In response to President Barack Obama’s pledge to put an extra USD 1 billion into defence in Eastern Europe, the Czech prime minister said on Tuesday that there was at present no need to increase the number of NATO soldiers on the ground in Europe.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the Czech Republic will be calling for an increase in the presence of NATO troops in Europe. Mr. Sobotka made the comments in reaction to American President Barack Obama’s announcement on a visit to Poland that the US was planning to invest USD 1 billion in increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe in view of the situation in Ukraine and instability in the region. Speaking on a visit to Vienna, the Czech leader said he understood why Poland or the Baltic States were in favour of a greater US military presence. But he said he believed there would be no need to increase the number of NATO soldiers on the ground in Europe for some years if things remained as they were now.
The current crisis in Ukraine represents a serious security risk for both the European Union and NATO, the Czech Defense Minister Martin Stopnický has said. Speaking at a meeting in Bratislava, he stressed it would be necessary to increase defense spending; he also made clear he strongly supported increased military cooperation by the Visegrad countries, backing a plan to form a joint combat unit of up to 4,000 soldiers by 2016. Earlier this week, the defense minister caused a major stir at home when he suggested NATO troops might be less than welcome on Czech soil, especially by those who still remembered the historic occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops. Mr Stropnický came under fire from the opposition as well as members of the government and was forced to backtrack. He put forward a declaration in the lower house emphasising the Czech Republic’s commitment to NATO and common defense.
The Visegrad 4 (comprising the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) should increase cooperation on defense, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday at a V4 meeting in Bratislava. Mr Sobotka stressed that NATO was the pillar of security in eastern and central Europe; the alliance has gained new urgency and purpose following Russia’s military intervention in Crimea and the amassment of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he was in favour of a larger NATO presence – some 3,000 to 4,000 troops – on the alliance’s eastern border by 2016. Earlier this week, the Czech defence minister, Martin Stropnický, fumbled an interview with Reuters when he suggested a majority of Czechs would be unhappy with foreign troops on the ground, as they still remembered Soviet troops in the country after 1968. He later shifted his position, putting forward a declaration reaffirming the Czech Republic’s commitment to NATO. The declaration passed in the lower house on Wednesday.
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
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