Prime Minister Andrej Babiš wants to push through a change of legislation
which would allow the rapid deployment of the country’s special forces in
allied foreign missions without the approval of Parliament.
The prime minister made the announcement shortly after visiting one of the country’s special units in Prostějov, saying a situation could arise where it would be necessary to send out a special unit within hours or even undertake a secret mission. He said that in such cases approval from the government’s National Security Council should be enough.
The idea was sharply rejected both by the prime minister’s partner in coalition, the Social Democrats, and the Communist Party which supports the minority government.
Czechs are looking back at 20 years in NATO. Their country joined the Alliance together with Hungary and Poland on March 12, 1999. Since then NATO has grown significantly and undertaken several major international military operations. Vít Pohanka highlights the most important developments in the Alliance over that time and how the Czech Republic participated in them.
In the spring of 1989, the dissident Václav Havel was in prison and the Czechoslovak army was preparing for a possible clash with Western imperialists under the banner “With the Soviet Union forever.” A decade later, on March 12, 1999, President Havel presided over the Czech Republic’s entry into the NATO military alliance, embracing the collective security while noting it would not come without sacrifice.
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.
Czech pilots who have been training Iraqis in flying Czech-made L-159 jets
will complete their mission in February, Czech Television reported on
Sunday. The Czech experts have been sharing their expertise with local
aviators in Iraq for over two years.
Czech ground staff will remain in the country. The chief engineer on the Czech team told Czech Television that while high temperatures and dust levels were problematic the lack of humidity in Iraq was a major boon.
The chief of the General Staff of the Czech Army, Aleš Opata, visited
Czech troops in Iraq and Mali between Wednesday and Friday. In Iraq General
Opata met instructors from the Czech chemical forces, military police and
regular police, as well as flying instructors teaching local pilots in the
use of Czech-made jets.
While in Mali the Czech Army chief met soldiers in the capital Bamako tasked with providing protection to a European Union training mission, a spokesperson for the General Staff told the Czech News Agency.
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.
The body of another Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan was laid to rest on
Wednesday. The funeral took place in his hometown, Prachatice, with full
Corp.Tomáš Procházka, who was 42 and specialised in dog training, was shot dead on October 22 while returning from a routine mission outside his base in Herat Province. Two other Czech soldiers were injured in the attack.
He was the fourth Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan this year. The first three died in a suicide bomb attack while on a patrol in early August.
An Afghan soldier opened fire on a Czech military vehicle on Monday, killing one and injuring two more members of the Czech military mission in Afghanistan. The attack is just the latest incident that has claimed Czech soldiers’ lives and the prime minister has called for more effective countermeasures.
One of the five Czech soldiers injured in a suicide bomb blast in
Afghanistan last week is to be flown back to the Czech Republic for further
A spokesperson for the Czech Armed Forces said the soldier’s condition now enabled transport and the army would send out a special plane to bring him home.
He suffered serious injuries in the blast and has already undergone several operations.