Prague - The Ukrainian crisis should prompt the creation of a second pillar of NATO, which effectively means a joint European military force, said Czech President and commander-in-chief Milos Zeman at a Prague conference that commemorates the 15th anniversary of the Czech Republic's entry into NATO.
“I spoke about it in Strasbourg a few weeks ago and the most optimistic estimates said that it could happen in 10 to 15 years. The situation in Ukraine should lead to considering accelerating this process,” said Zeman, adding that there is a risk of civil war in Ukraine, which could led to an external intervention.
Zeman said it is necessary that the country hold a presidential and parliamentary election as soon as possible. He also said that Ukraine should adopt a decentralized and federal model.
The president also praised the role of Czech soldiers in military missions abroad and announced that the Czech Republic will send 150 soldiers to take part in the United Nations mission to the Golan Heights in 2015. “I could speak about our participation in Mali, in Sinai, but also about a planned action in the Golan Heights, where we expect to deploy around 150 soldiers in 2015,” said Zeman.
The Czech Republic officially offered its troops for the UN mission in the Golan Heights in the fall of 2013, when then-Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek and then-Foreign Minister Jan Kohout met with UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. It was decided that the Czech Republic would not send its troops to the Golan Heights before 2015.
When it joined NATO in 1999, the Czech Republic pledged to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. This figure started to drop in 2003 and at present it is little over 1 percent of GDP, said Zeman. This is alarming especially in the present situation, when the USA is starting to shift its attention to the Pacific Ocean, he added.
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