Czech generals demanding more money to meet NATO commitment

Czech Republic president Miloš Zeman with senior Czech army Generals.

PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR, 9 June 2017

Prague, June 8 (CTK) – The credibility of the whole NATO will be threatened if the Czech Republic does not confirm its commitment to raise its defence spending it made to its allies, Deputy Defence Minister Daniel Kostoval said at a national security conference today.

Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller also called for a rise in Czech defence spending.
The military will have to find a compromise between the purchase of ammunition, arms systems and soldiers’ recruitment and training unless the Czech Republic spends at least 2 percent of its GDP on its defence, Kostoval said.

The Czech Republic has pledged to spend 1.4 percent of its GDP on defence until 2020 and the proportion is to reach 2 percent by 2025.

However, according to the budget frameworks proposed by the Finance Ministry, the Czech Republic is only to spend 1.16 percent of its GDP on defence in 2020.

Kostoval said the sum was insufficient.

“With the budget we have now we are unable to have a sufficient reserve of ammunition and to buy the new equipment at the same time,” he added.

“Be it 1 percent, 1.2 or 1.4 percent, there will be always a compromise between a smaller purchase of the ammunition than we should have and investments in new arms systems, recruitment and research,” Kostoval said.

“There will be always a compromise unless we reach the minimum, 2 percent level,” he added.
The Czech Republic needs to have a bigger military with more modern equipment to make the country able to defend itself and to deter an aggressor, Kostoval said.

If the financing is not ensured, the Czech Republic will not gain the defence capabilities it pledged to have in NATO, Kostoval said.

“If we do not create them, we will undermine the credibility of the whole of NATO,” he said.
The fact that NATO leaders have agreed on achieving the 2 percent target during a single decade is not only an effort to please the USA, Gottemoeller said.

This is also in the interest of Europe and Canada, she added.

It is a reality that one has to spend more on defence in the more dangerous world, Gottemoeller said.
This country must ensure that it is able to take part in intensive operations. Ensure that it has a sufficient personnel, equipment and training, thanks to which its armed forces are able to fulfil the tasks on which it agreed along with other allies within the collective defence, Gottemoeller said.

She said Romania was to reach the 2 percent aim this year and the Baltic countries next year.
Kostoval said the military also needed to know the long-time framework of its financing.
“In order to plan some projects, we must know how much we can spend in the particular years,” Kostoval said, adding that the Defence Ministry needed to know its budgets at least for five years ahead.
He said this would be a task for the next government as was the spending of more money on defence purposes.

The next government is to arise from the October general election.

Chief of staff Josef Becvar said if the long-term stability of sources were not ensured, this would delay the implementation of the military strategic concept that reckoned with the abandonment of the old Soviet equipment and acquisition of a new one as well as the recruitment of new soldiers.

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