Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Czech troops to serve in Mali for 6 months

14 February 2013

Prague, Feb 13 (CTK) - Czech soldiers will guard a training base in the capital Bamako in the first six months of their 15-month foreign mission in Mali and they will join the EU operation commanded by France on April 1, Czech Deputy Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek told CTK yesterday.

France requested that the Czech soldiers fulfil force protection tasks at the Bamako base.

"The protection of the top command is a prestigious task for Czech soldiers," Picek said.

The Czech government approved the 15-month deployment of up to 50 troops in Mali last week. The decision is yet to be confirmed by parliament.

The government will deal with the specification of the Czech mandate in Mali at its meeting this afternoon, Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said.

The Czech troops will not fight the Islamists who dominate the northern part of the country. The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) said they will support the mission provided that this condition is met.

Picek recalled that the EU operation in Mali is a training mission.

After the first six months the Czech soldiers will take part in the training of Mali's armed forces within the EU mission.

The costs of the Czech participation in the Mali mission, limited with 220 million crowns, will be covered by the Defence Ministry.

Picek yesterday attended a meeting of EU defence ministers in Dublin discussing the Mali mission.

A Czech unit of 30 troops will guard the base.

"These will be mostly soldiers who were in Afghanistan," Picek said.

Czech chief-of-staff Petr Pavel recommended that Czech troops in Mali be equipped with Land Rover Kajman and Iveco armoured vehicles.

($1=18.838 crowns)

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