Baltic military mission wins Czech parliament’s support

Prague, July 20 (CTK) – The Senate approved today the mission of up to 290 Czech troops in Lithuania and Latvia next year within NATO’s multinational Enhanced Forward Presence unit in the Baltics, which is a reaction to the Russian threat.

The mission will be “a strong political and practical expression of solidarity and readiness to meet the pledge of collective defence,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky told the senators.

The other house of Czech parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the deployment of the troops last week.
In the vote today, 57 out of 68 senators present supported the mission.

Only one Social Democrat (CSSD) senator and three senators from the group led by Jan Veleba (Party of Citizens’ Rights, SPO) voted against the mission, while seven other senators abstained from the vote. Former Communist Jaroslav Doubrava, From Veleba’s group, proposed that the mission be rejected as it threatens peace in the region.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said previously strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is one of its key priorities. Over 1,200 allied troops are to be deployed in each of the countries.

The security environment in the region changed due to Russia’s aggressive steps towards Ukraine.

Up to 250 Czech members of mechanised infantry are to participate in the multinational battlegroup in Lithuania commanded by Germany. A Czech mortar platoon of up to 40 members is to join the battlegroup in Latvia, which is led by Canada.

The army is likely to send lower number of soldiers so that reserves may be added in case of need, Stropnicky said.
He said the mission is to cost Czech Republic 362 million crowns.

Stropnicky said French and Danish troops are to operate in Estonia and U.S., British, Croat and Romanian troops will be deployed in Poland.
Czech troops served within a joint exercise of the Visegrad Group (V4) and the Baltic countries early this year already. Czech pilots with supersonic

fighters repeatedly took part in air policing over the Baltics. The Czech fighters may rejoin it in 2019.

Source: Prague Daily Monitor.

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