Notes for the Riga NATO summit

Autor: Václav Klaus | Publikováno: 13.1.2007 | Rubrika: English
Vlastenec

1. I would like to thank President Vike-Freiberga and all the organizers of the Riga summit for the excellent preparation and organization of this meeting.

As someone who remembers the truly historic NATO summit in Prague four years ago, I feel the same historic symbolism here today. We consider the membership of seven new countries in the year 2004 and especially of the Baltic countries, which were the first ex-Soviet Union states to join the North Atlantic Alliance, as a final end of the post-Second World War division of Europe. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe feel this very strongly.

2. I would like to repeat the old and traditionally held Czech position that for us NATO is the crucial forum for the transatlantic dialogue between Europe and North America, and that it is the only functional defence structure in today’s world. And we are convinced that it should remain to be. By this I want to indicate that we do not consider the EU defence arrangements as an alternative to NATO.

3. As one of the new members, the Czech Republic is in favour of an open doors policy of NATO and we are prepared to support all discussed and suggested initiatives as regards new memberships and partnerships. I say that in spite of the fact that we are aware of the unpleasant consequences of the law of diminishing returns, that we know we should not overstretch ourselves, that we should not be bigger than we can afford. But we should go ahead and look for new potential members and partners. Flexibility in this respect is important.

4. I agree with those who say that ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan is currently the main NATO’s activity and I would like to emphasize that it should remain in the centre of our attention. In the last three years, the mission in Afghanistan has been partly pushed aside, into the shadow of other daunting problems of Iraq or North Korea, and I feel it should not be so. The Czech Republic is ready not only to continue in its involvement in ISAF but also to enhance our engagement by half (from 150 up to 225 people). This increase was approved by the government and the parliament will decide on it before the end of this year.

I agree with the Secretary General who, in his letter of 21 November, mentioned not just the military operations but the overall stabilization process in Afghanistan. The Secretary General said that the owner of the stabilization process in Afghanistan is the Afghan government, which I fully agree with. What is crucial is the continuation of the political process inside the country and especially its economic recovery. We are ready to further support it from outside but we stress the irreplaceable responsibility of the domestic political players.

5. The Czech Republic has its biggest military contingent abroad in Kosovo and, again, we are ready to enhance the number of our soldiers there. KFOR remains to be the priority of the Czech foreign and security policy. We support the UN-led talks on the status of Kosovo but, based on our historic experience, we stress the need to find a solution which would be accepted by the people there and not only by the group of well-minded international experts and advisers who don’t have a real stake there. The Alliance should be engaged in Kosovo as long as it will be needed – I am afraid it will be a long mission.

6. Western Balkan is currently in a relatively peaceful stage. The Membership Action Plan countries (MAP) – Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – should get a signal that we count with them. The remaining three countries – Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro – should see their future in the Partnership for Peace.

7. We are in favour of the building of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and we consider it important that it reaches full operational capacity as soon as possible. I would like to stress that the NRF concept has been taken seriously in my country. We have offered 400 troops for the 8th rotation of NRF and 35 for the 9th rotation. We are fully prepared to guarantee our participation in it.

(I should also mention the success of initiatives on protection against the Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Czech contribution to their implementation is the CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) specialisation of our Armed Forces and the creation of a “Centre of Excellence” for CBRN threats).

8. As regards the Missile Defence System, we are in favour of an early integration of the US Missile Defence System into the more general NATO Missile Defence System because we are convinced we need a single transatlantic security architecture in this field as well, both for the sake of minimizing the costs of such system and for the sensitivity of this issue for the public opinion.

9. Energy security is a serious security issue which we do not underestimate. It should be, however, clearly structured and defined. I disagree with attempts to use this topic as a battlefield of some European politicians and political forces today with the Russia of yesterday.

10. The Czech military budget is an issue both at home and among our partners in NATO. We are aware of this, try to pay sufficient attention to it and will do our best to positively solve this issue. We have, first, to make the overall budget deficit in the Czech Republic smaller and, second, we have to efficiently use the taxpayers’ money in the operations of the Czech army. The increase in the volume of defence expenditures has to follow, not to precede it.

Václav Klaus, Riga, Latvia, November 28-29, 2006

www.klaus.cz

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