The migrant crisis, the changing security environment and NATO’s role in addressing the challenges of the present day topped the agenda of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s talks with Czech top officials in Prague on Wednesday. The NATO Secretary General made it clear that while the migrant crisis called for an immediate reaction from the EU, NATO should primarily address the cause of the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is on a two-day visit to the Czech Republic, met with Czech President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle on Thursday. The main topic on their agenda was international terrorism. The Czech head of state also acquainted Mr Stoltenberg with his proposal for a UN resolution establishing an international anti-terrorism unit. Mr Zeman plans to present his proposal at a meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month. During the meeting at Prague Castle’s Throne Hall, the UN flag was hoisted by mistake instead of the NATO one. The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said after the meeting that it was an oversight, adding that he would further investigate the matter.
The short-term solution of the current migrants crisis is up to the European Union and not up to NATO, the chairman of the lower house of parliament Jan Hamáček said on Thursday after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Mr Hamáček said they had both agreed that NATO’s responsibility lay in seeking long-term solutions, namely in reinstating stability in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The lower house head also informed Mr Stoltenberg about his plan to increase the Czech Republic’s defence budget to 1.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
NATO must adapt to the changes taking place in the security environment in its neighbourhood, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference after a meeting with a Czech government delegation on Wednesday, adding that the migration crisis requires an immediate reaction of the European Union. He also said NATO should concentrate on dealing with the causes of the crisis and on stabilising situation in the countries of the migrants’ origin. Mr Stoltenberg arrived in Prague on Wednesday for a two-day visit. On Thursday he is scheduled to meet with President Miloš Zeman.
Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has called on NATO to destroy human smugglers’ ships in the Mediterranean. In a press release issued on Wednesday, Mr Babiš said NATO should launch an operation similar to the Operation Ocean Shield launched against Somali pirates in August this year. He also suggested NATO should strengthen security on Turkey’s boarders. The Finance Minister said he wanted to discuss the topic with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is scheduled to arrive in Prague on Wednesday afternoon for a two-day visit.
The first part of a US military convoy, which is heading from a US base in Germany’s Vilseck to a NATO ground forces military exercise in Hungary, entered the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The convoy crossed the Czech-German at border in Rozvadov near Plzeň at around 10 a.m. The main part of the convoy, made up of around 150 armoured combat vehicles and over 500 military personnel, is expected to arrive in the country on Sunday. The convoy is heading for the town of Vyškov, where the troops will spend the night at the Czech army’s military barracks. In March of this year a similar convoy travelled through the Czech Republic following operations in the Baltic States.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, says NATO has nothing to do with resolving Europe’s refugee crisis. The deputy prime minister, ANO’s Andrej Babiš, has called for the military alliance to help deal with the unprecedented situation. Mr. Sobotka said Europe itself needed to resolve the problem and that NATO’s role lay elsewhere. The leader of the third party in the coalition, Pavel Bělobrádek of the Christian Democrats said Mr. Babiš’s comments on how to respond to the refugee crisis showed he did not read government materials very often.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will on Wednesday meet with US soldiers crossing the Czech Republic in a convoy, a Czech government spokesman said. The American troops will pass through the country between Wednesday and Monday on their way to Hungary. While in Prague on a two-day visit, Mr. Stoltenberg will also hold talks centred on NATO’s adaptation to changes in the security environment with a Czech government delegation headed by Mr. Sobotka.
Soldiers from the Czech Republic and other NATO allies, including Germany, Great Britain and the US, will take part in an international military training in the Czech Republic, which gets underway on Monday. The joint excersise of NATO units, Ample Strike 2015, will be held in Náměšť nad Oslavou in south Moravia until September 22. According to Magdalena Dvořáková of the General Staff's press department, the aim of the military training is to harmonise the activities of tactic air-force pilots and forward air controllers. For the first time this year, the Canadian air force and Austria will also participate in the exercise.
Czech Gripen fighter pilots have completed their mission guarding Icelandic airspace, returning with the planes to the Czech Republic on Friday. The journey took three-and-a-half hours and the jets refuelled during flight. Czechs have now guarded Icelandic airspace twice. The Czech military also served in similar missions in the Baltic states as a member of NATO.
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