Report Criticizes Czech Contribution to NATO Defense

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh RasmussenFrom CTK:  According to yesterday’s daily Hospodarske noviny (HN), a highly critical NATO report concludes that the Czech Republic would not be useful for NATO if a real war broke out unless it adds money to the armed forces. . . .

[Prime Minister Bohuslav] Sobotka said he did not discuss such a report with [NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh] Rasmussen.

A source from the Czech Defence Ministry confirmed to CTK that this report has been worked out, however, it is not a final report, but only a draft assessment of the 2013-2014 Czech defence plans.

The NATO report recommends that 20 percent of the Czech defence budget go to investments. At present, under 10 percent of the budget goes to investments.

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  [M]y message today has been twofold. On the one hand, I have commended the Czech Republic for its strong commitment to our Alliance and also for its significant contributions to NATO-led operations, notably in Afghanistan.

So despite the economic challenges, the Czech Republic has stayed committed to our operations, notably in Afghanistan. I appreciate that.

Having said that, the other part of my message today has been that defence investments in the Czech Republic are too low. So I have encouraged the government to find ways to gradually increase defence investment.

I could add to that this is a message I have delivered here in Prague but it’s actually a message I will deliver in all capitals I’m going to visit before the NATO Summit in Wales because I am as Secretary General of NATO very much concerned about the deep cuts we have seen in particular European defence budgets. If we are to ensure effective collective defence in the future, we must reverse the trend, we must increase defence investment. . . .

I have expressed the concern that if the current trend continues, it will be increasingly difficult to find the necessary resources to continue modernization of the Czech Armed Forces.

And I’m very pleased that the Prime Minister today has indicated that it is the intention of his government to stop further cuts in the defence budgets.

I have encouraged the Prime Minister to find political ways to gradually increase defence investment. Within NATO we have an ongoing dialogue with all Allies when it comes to the military specifics. And we see the Czech Republic as an Ally who is actually quite willing to listen to good advice from NATO defence planners.

But at the end of the day it is a national responsibility to take the necessary decisions to make sure that the armed forces live up to the overall requirements within our Alliance. I have no doubt that the Czech authorities will do all they can within the budgetary limits to continue modernization of the Czech Armed Forces.

But of course it would help if more resources could be devoted to defence.

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Image: Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (photo: NATO)