The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation should focus on fighting
international terrorism, the main, if not only, enemy of civilised states,
Czech President Miloš Zeman said at a meeting of Czech heads of military
command on Wednesday. He and Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar also said
they were against a withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Czech president also mentioned the recent remark by his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, who said in a recent interview with the Economist magazine that NATO was in a state of "brain death". Mr. Zeman said that “if NATO is not to be in a state of brain death, it should become more offensive and realise what its real role in the current world is.”
The Czech Republic’s European Commissioner, Věra Jourová, has come out
against a statement by French President Emanuel Macron that NATO is
“brain dead”. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Ms. Jourová said
everything that caused the Kremlin to celebrate should be eschewed, adding
that she the European Union must make itself heard more within NATO.
Speaking on the same programme, the Czech former chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Petr Pavel, said Mr. Macron’s words had disrupted unity within the alliance.
Last year the Czech authorities broke up a Russian spy network operating in the country, the head of the BIS counter-intelligence service, Michal Koudelka, told MPs on Monday. The FSB spy ring – financed directly by Moscow and the Russian Embassy – was uncovered by BIS and the Czech Republic’s national organised crime unit. I discussed the revelation with former Czech Military Intelligence chief Andor Šándor.
Some 220,000 visitors attended the annual NATO Days and Czech Airforce Days
military show at the Mošnov airfield near Ostrava, which took place on
Saturday and Sunday.
This year’s edition of the event, which is one of the largest military air shows in Europe, commemorate 70 years since the foundation of the NATO and 20 years since the Czech Republic’s accession to the alliance.
Among the biggest highlights were demonstrations of combat and rescue equipment, including the American C-5 Super Galaxy transport aircraft, as well as several aerobatic shows.
A group of former high-ranking state officials say a recent cyber-attack on
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs underscores the need to bolster state
security measures, which will require adopting new legislation.
Unlike other Nato allies, the Czech Republic has not done enough to build a cyber defence system, the group said in a statement on Wednesday. They warn that vital cyber-infrastructure, including in financial, energy, transport, healthcare sectors, is insufficiently protected.
Among the signatories to the statement are General Petr Pavel, who served as Chairman of the Nato Military Committee, former deputy defence minister Daniel Koštoval, and diplomat Petr Kolář, a former ambassador to Russia and the United States.
As of September, Czech Gripen fighters will monitor and patrol the airspace
over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as part of a NATO mission.
The Czech Army confirmed on Friday it would jointly patrol the Baltic States’ airspace along with alliance members Belgium and Denmark.
As in the years 2009 and 2012, Czech pilots will protect the airspace of the Baltic States, which do not own supersonic fighters of their own. Most recently, Czech Gripens were deployed over Iceland.
Altogether there are four NATO Multinational Battlegroups of the Enhanced Forward Presences (eFP) in the Baltic States and neighbouring Poland, established to deter Russia from further aggression following its annexation of Crimea and incursions into eastern Ukraine.
Czech military police have taken four people into custody in connection
with the death of an Afghan commando and terror suspect beaten while in
NATO custody. A state prosecutor said they face charges for failing to
report a crime.
The Afghan commando, Wahidullah Khan, was accused of killing a Czech soldier in October 2018 in one of many insider attacks by Afghan forces on NATO troops last year.
He allegedly opened fire on a group of Czech soldiers at Shindand air base, a facility in Herat Province in western Afghanistan. That attack killed Cpl. Tomáš Procházka and wounded two other Czech soldiers.
At the time, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (for ANO) rejected that Czech soldiers were responsible for Khan’s death. The Defence Ministry has declined to comment on Thursday’s arrest of four people.
The Czech Republic currently has 345 soldiers in Afghanistan. So far, 14 Czech soldiers have been killed there.
Diplomats, military officers and experts gathered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday to discuss energy security and future challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. While discussing what the alliance may be up against 70 years from now, some argued that the impacts of climate change are likely to be the main threat.
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.
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