Traffic was reported to have been backed up for several kilometres in the area of Ostrava on Saturday morning as attendees prepared to visit NATO Days and Czech Air Force Days - the largest event of its kind in Central Europe - at the airport in Mošnov. Police reported that traffic was the heaviest from the city of Ostrava itself, where cars were backed up six or seven kilometres, with delays of up to two hours. Tens of thousands of people are attending the air show, where 16 states are taking part, over two days. One of the big attractions is the European 'premiere' of the American CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.
The unique CV-22B Osprey aircraft landed at the Mošnov international airport in Ostrava on Friday. The unique half-helicopter half-plane, used by the US Air Force special forces, will be displayed at the annual NATO Days and Czech Air Force Days air show, which will get underway in Ostrava on Saturday. Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the two-day event.
The Czech Republic will offer 150 personnel along with several helicopters to serve in a newly-planned NATO rapid response force, Czech President Milos Zeman said on Friday at the NATO summit. Several thousand members could form the NATO Rapid Force (NRF), which would be capable of going into action within 48 hours. Other options are also being considered. The Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said Prague is also considering other ways of joining the new unit´s operation, mentioning logistics and the country’s specialised anti-chemical unit. The NRF headquarters could be located in in Szczecin, Poland. The new plan is direct reaction by NATO to the Russian annexation of Crimea and alleged military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
The Czech government is sending two experts to the NATO Liaison Office in Kiev to advise the Ukrainian government on a reform of the security sector and on logistics, the news agency ČTK reported. The posting should last two years, the Czech defence and interior ministries said. An expert on information security from the Czech Interior Ministry is already operating in the Ukrainian capital.
Over 700 Czech soldiers are due to take part in the multinational military exercise Saber Junction 2014 at the training grounds in Hohenfels, Germany starting on Sunday. The ten-day exercise will bring together close to 6,000 servicemen from 17 NATO-member countries for a wide range of military operations. During theoretical and practical training soldiers develop skills in tactics, logistics, intelligence, evidence collection and other areas.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, discussed a NATO summit planned for next month with the country’s minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, and minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, at his Lány summer residence near Prague on Saturday. All three will be attending the conference in Wales on September 4 and 5. Mr. Stropnický told reporters that the main aim of Saturday’s meeting was to ensure the Czech delegation spoke with one voice at the summit, which is expected to discuss NATO’s future and financing, as well as the situations in Ukraine and Iraq.
Some 1400 soldiers from the Czech Republic and 11 other NATO allies including Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, and the US, will take part in international military air training in the Czech Republic in September. Thirty airplanes and helicopters, including Gripen and F-16 fighter jets, as well as 50 ground military vehicles will be used in the training. Ample Strike 2014 will be similar to previous operations such as Flying Rhino, but for the first time it will be held under the auspices of the Czech Army. It will take place from September 3 to 15.
The US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen, is set to leave Prague later this month, after three and a half years in office. In our special programme, Ambassador Eisen discusses the state of the Czech-US relations, his involvement in Czech anti-corruption battle and human rights efforts, as well as his personal reflections of his time in Prague. I sat down with Norman Eisen at the US ambassador’s residence, and first asked him what he thought his biggest accomplishments were.
The Czech government has approved the candidature of the chief of staff of the Czech Army, Petr Pavel, for the post of chairman of NATO’s Military Committee. Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Monday night, the Czech minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said General Pavel had a “very solid chance” of obtaining the position, which is second only to the secretary general in the NATO hierarchy. For his part, the general said if he wins the post in a vote in mid September it will be a great honour for the Czech Republic and an expression of trust on the part of the country’s allies.
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