The lower house of Parliament has approved a government proposal which will enable the Czech Republic to contribute over 800 soldiers to the NATO rapid response forces next year, instead of the previously approved 452. Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky requested the amendment due to a general revision of the concept of NATO’s rapid reaction forces which involves bigger contributions by individual membership countries. The Senate has already consented to the change.
A new poll released by the STEM agency suggests that one-third of Czechs think that membership in NATO is more important than membership in the European Union. According to the poll, the country’s membership in NATO has support from 69 percent of those asked; around half of respondents ranked membership in the EU as equally important. Over the years, the importance of NATO for Czechs has grown steadily. The Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004.
A team of investigators have left for Spain to ascertain the cause of Thursday’s crash of a Czech military helicopter during a NATO training exercise. The helicopter crashed near Zaragoza, making a hard landing and turning over. It was carrying five crew and eleven soldiers. The five soldiers who suffered light injuries were released from hospital on Friday.
A Czech L-159 training jet collided with vulture at the Trident Juncture 20115 NATO training exercise in Spain, the ctk news agency reported on Thursday. The wing of the aircraft was damaged but the jet landed safely and will be transported by road to the Czech Republic. According to technicians who inspected the plane had the collision been closer to the cockpit the pilot would have had to eject. The jet was flying at 600 km per hour on its way back to base when the accident occurred.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics have indicated both are in favour of a possible reassessment of ties with Minsk dependant on positive signals from Belarus which is holding presidential elections on Sunday. They also regarded as positive a recent decision by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko leading to the release of six political prisoners as well as the role of Belarus in peace talks to try and end the conflict in Ukraine. Other issues on the table in Prague on Friday included not only bilateral relations but also the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.
More than one hundred protestors took part in a demonstration on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Monday organised by the No to Bases Initiative, slamming Czech membership in NATO. Attendees called for the Czech Republic's immediate withdrawal, with some, like Communist MP Marta Semelová, calling NATO a "criminal organization". One activist, Jan Korál, said he would always oppose what he described as the "dictatorship of Messrs. Havel, Vondra, and Klaus" who he described as "sellouts".
Over 220,000 people attended the two-day NATO Days and Czech Army Air Force Days military show at the Mošnov airbase near Ostrava in North Moravia, a spokesperson for the organisers said. Over 155,000 turned out for the event on Saturday which is a one-day record. Visitors to the show, one of the biggest in the Central European region, could view such planes as a B-52 bomber and a multi-mission V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from the United States and veteran Swedish models.
The Czech Army could deploy 900 soldiers within 48 hours if called on by the police to help deal with the refugee crisis, the chief of staff, Josef Bečvář, said at a NATO festival in Mošnov in the Moravian Silesian Region on Saturday. The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said the army would discuss joint training exercises, which should take place by the end of this month, with police representatives on Monday. Over 150,000 people attended the NATO Days show, which is a record.
A US military convoy has left the territory of the Czech Republic after crossing the country on its way from Bavaria to Hungary, where it will take part in NATO exercises. Some 150 vehicles carrying 550 American soldiers left a barracks in Vyškov near Brno in six waves on Monday evening before crossing the border into Slovakia, a Czech Army spokesman said.
A US military convoy is crossing the Czech Republic on Sunday on its way to a military exercise in Hungary. The Dragoon convoy counting 150 vehicles and 550 personnel is travelling from the US base at Vilsek in Bavaria via Plzen, Prague, Brno and Výškov where the soldiers will spend the night at Czech military barracks. The military exercise Brave Warrior is aimed at demonstrating NATO’s collective defence capabilities and strengthening European stability. Most of the exercise will take place in the Várpalota region in western Hungary. The series of drill will involve 1,800 troops from Slovakia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia and the US.
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