Brussels, March 22 (CTK) – The Czech economic growth and the state of public finances are a good basis for an increase in defence spending, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Czech PM Andrej Babis at their meeting in NATO’s Brussels headquarters on Thursday.

He said an increase in the spending on its own defence is good not only for the Czech Republic but also for NATO as a whole.

At a joint press conference with Stoltenberg, Babis pointed out NATO’s crucial role for security and prosperity of the Czech Republic.

Prague is and will remain a reliable ally, Babis said, adding that Prague is determined to fulfil its commitments towards trans-Atlantic security and joint defence.

That is why the Czech Republic is raising its defence budget so that it reaches 1.4 percent of GDP in 2020 and 2 percent in 2024, in accordance with the decision made at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014.

The latest NATO annual report says the Czech Republic spent 1.05 percent of GDP on defence in 2017.

Apart from the USA, the only NATO members to have already reached the required 2 percent are Greece, Britain and Estonia.

Babis said the Czech government has been accelerating the increase in defence spending. He too, pointed out the country’s recent economic growth.

In this connection, it is also necessary to speak on the sum the Czechs spend on defence, not only the percentage share, he said.

Compared with the sum it spent on defence in 2014, Prague has practically raised it by more than 30 percent since, which is 10 percent a year, which is a good trend, Babis said.

He said there is “no problem” to have money for defence, but military acquisition procedures must be sped up.

Thanks to its economic growth, the Czech Republic can also develop its military capabilities including the recruitment of new soldiers, Babis added.