Lower house of parliament speaker Jan Hamáček highlighted the Czech commitment to boost defense spending to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020 and further increase it afterwards in response to US President Donald Trump’s Warsaw speech. Trump, while underlining Washington’s support for the NATO principle of common defense, also stressed that many NATO members are way below the 2.0 percent of GDP NATO target. The Czech Republic currently spends slightly over 1.0 of GDP on defense. Hamáček, who was representing the Czech Republic at the Three Seas Initiative, said on his Twitter account that he talked with Trump about energy security and also raised the future of the EU-US trade deal, TTIP, with him.
Politicians, diplomats, members of leading think tanks, and analysts have been gathering in Prague since June 13 for the third annual Prague European Summit. They faced a perhaps unrivalled list of problems facing the continent and the world to chew over during three days with the widespread impression that past certainties are crumbling amid a raft of new and deepening challenges.
A convoy of American soldiers are passing through the Czech Republic from Monday to Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Czech Army said. The US troops are based in Germany and are on their way to training exercises in other countries. Around 400 soldiers will travel through Czech territory in 120 vehicles in two separate waves. More such movements – involving 1,600 troops in total – are taking place later this month and at the start of July.
A high-profile conference on strengthening common EU security and defence cooperation, hosted by the Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, is taking place at Prague’s Žofín palace on Friday. In his opening speech, the Czech Prime Minister said the European Union must be able to guarantee security on the continent.
In a joint article published in the Wall Street Journal, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, say Europe must take its defence into its own hands. Tuesday’s piece precedes a European security and defence conference being held in Prague on Friday that Mr. Juncker is set to attend. The two leaders write that the EU must not only complement NATO but respond independently to external threats; to that end, the bloc is now implementing the EU Global Strategy on security, they say. They add that a European Defence Union will help protect the EU, which is exactly what its citizens want.
Several convoys of US soldiers are due to cross the Czech Republic in June and July, the spokesman for the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, Jan Šulc, told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday. Altogether 1,600 soldiers and 460 military vehicles will be crossing the country on their way from Germany to Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria to take part in a NATO military exercise.
President Donald Trump’s meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday was seen as an important indicator of how the change-of-guard at the White House may affect the future of the defence alliance and the security guarantees it has provided. I asked Vít Beneš from the Prague Institute of International Relations to assess the outcome of the meeting.
Several dozen people gathered on Wenceslas Square in the centre of Prague on Saturday to protest against the NATO and against the Czech Republic’s membership in the alliance. The event was organised by the Czech Peace Movement organisation in connection with the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels. Among those who attended the meeting were Communist MPs Marta Semelová and Stanislav Grospič.
The Czech government is to hold a conference on defence and security in cooperation with the European Commission in Prague next month. The cabinet approved the meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters. Among those due to speak are the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Mr. Sobotka said the conference was part of the Czech Republic’s efforts concerning the future of the European Union. It will take place at Prague’s Žofín.