US military convoy to travel across Czech territory

17-03-2015

The Czech government on Monday confirmed it had agreed to allow US military personnel and vehicles returning from a NATO operation in the Baltic states to travel across the Czech Republic to a military base in Germany. The operation, titled Atlantic Resolve, was a show of force and solidarity for NATO countries bordering Russia, nervous over that country’s intervention in Ukraine.

Illustrative photo: Czech TelevisionIllustrative photo: Czech Television As early as March 29, a US military convoy counting almost 120 armoured vehicles and more than 500 personnel will travel across the Czech Republic on its way to a military base in Bavaria – a return journey from a recent mission in the Baltic states. Operation Atlantic Resolve is meant to have reassured the Baltic countries as well as Poland, members of NATO since 2004 and 1999, respectively, of America’s commitment to stability in Europe, as well as to underline the alliance’s readiness to act in the event of an attack or crisis. It was in solidarity with its fellow NATO members on Monday that the Czech government readily ‘greenlighted’ the return journey of the US convoy across Czech territory. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka:

“Our agreement honours our commitments with NATO partners and it is also a gesture of unity...”

Photo: Jan ČernýPhoto: Jan Černý The convoy’s journey across the Czech Republic will not follow not one route but three, entering at Harrachov, in North Bohemia, Náchod in North-East Bohemia and Bohumín, in North-East Moravia. The forces will regroup at Prague’s Ruzyně, before following a single route towards Plzeň and Rozvadov, where they will cross the border into Germany. The Czech military police, police, and customs officers will provide assistance, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said:

“It is worth adding that our forces will help, providing for example, fuel for vehicles on route. The expenses are being fully covered by the US.”

Not all are happy with the government’s decision: although it was welcomed by the opposition centre-right parties, the Communists came out against. Alexander Černý, a member of the Defence Committee, argued that a decision such as allowing a foreign military convoy passage should at the very least have been debated in the Chamber of Deputies.

Alexander Černý, photo: Czech TelevisionAlexander Černý, photo: Czech Television “These kinds of things have to be planned. Our constitution does not refer to operations like the passage of a convoy or ‘victory lap’… And so far, no one, as far as I know, has raised the issue either in the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies.”

It is necessary to point out the Czech Communist Party has never been in favour of Czech NATO membership, so such a response from one of its members was less than surprising. The convoy should complete the journey through the Czech Republic by April 1.

17-03-2015