Twenty years ago history was made in Independence, Missouri. Three post-communist countries officially entered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were the first former members of the Warsaws Pact to join NATO. Why was the small US Midwestern city selected as the best place for the main official event on that significant day?
President Miloš Zeman has said that the main benefit of NATO membership is
the security guarantees it provides.
Speaking in an interview for the CTK news agency on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO, President Zeman said the main threat facing the alliance today is international terrorism.
He said in this connection that he would support a re-enforcement of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
He criticized peace-talks with the Taliban, comparing them to the policy of appeasement of the Western powers at the outset of WWII.
An agreement with the Taliban would mean that it would once again make Afghanistan a base for international terrorism, Zeman warned.
Twenty years ago this Tuesday, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary became the first former Eastern Bloc countries to join NATO, with Slovakia entering five years later, when all four joined the EU. The anniversary will be marked with pomp and circumstance, honours for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and debate over how to face new threats to collective security.
Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is in Prague to mark the
20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO. She was a
leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to
In the coming days, the Czech-born Albright will take part in various events marking the anniversary and discussing NATO’s legacy and current role. She will also present her latest book, Fascism: A Warning.
On Monday, Albright is due to hold a public discussion with former diplomat Michael Žantovský at the Law Faculty of Charles University.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of Czech membership in NATO, she will take part in an international forum at Prague Castle. She is among 14 people who will receive the new Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy handed over by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček .
The main threats for NATO in the present day are Russia, China and
cyberwarfare, the US ambassador to Prague, Stephen King, said at a seminar
in the Czech lower house marking 20 years since the country joined NATO.
The US ambassador said Putin’s regime was one of creeping aggression, citing its conflict with Georgia, the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine. China, the ambassador said, used business to further the country’s strategic interests.
Ambassador King called on the Czech Republic to honor its commitments to NATO to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense. Foreign minister Tomáš Petříček said the country could realistically fulfill this commitment by 2024.
Czech President Miloš Zeman attended a meeting of heads of state of the
Bucharest Nine, the countries making up the eastern flank of NATO, hosted
by Slovak president in Košice on Thursday. The main objective of the
meeting, which was also attended by NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg, was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of NATO and to discuss
the current security situation in Europe and its neighbourhood.
During the meeting with his counterparts, Czech President Miloš Zeman defended the military mission in Afghanistan, head of the president's foreign policy team Rudolf Jindrák wrote in Twitter.
Following a bilateral meeting with Mr Stoltenberg, Slovak president Andrej Kiska said it was crucial to discuss defence and security in peacetime, since it was the obligation of any government to provide security for its citizens.
During the 1960s as the Warsaw Pact sought to change the balance of military power decisively in its favour it employed a largescale disinformation to fool NATO about its strength and intentions. One of the enterprises conducted to support this deception effort was Operation BLÍN. Its story is one of a daring embassy heist right under the noses of NATO intelligence officers reminiscent of a Hollywood thriller.
Speaking to journalists following his address to the Peace Forum in Paris,
Prime Minister Babiš said that in the past Czech troops had been directly
involved in NATO’s combat operations against international terrorism and
it might be time to consider sending them into direct combat again.
He said this was a sensitive political decision that would have to be discussed both at home and with the country’s NATO allies.
At present Czech troops are serving in a number of foreign missions, such as Afghanistan and Mali, where they are involved mainly in training of local security forces and patrolling.
Close to 200,000 people visited the two-day NATO Days and Czech Airforce
Days military show at the Mošnov airfield near Ostrava over the weekend.
The highlight of the event was a historical flypast commemorating 100 years of Czechoslovakia to the sound of Vltava from Bedrich Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country.
The highly popular event offered visitors an air show in which military pilots from NATO member states performed various air stunts, a display of veteran planes as well as modern fighter jets used by the army and a demonstration of ground forces in crisis situations by NATO allies.
The event’s main partner this year was the United States.