Prague, Jan 13 (CTK) – The Czech Republic must be ready for war, it must hire more soldiers and be intensively supplying itself with arms because the risk of a military conflict is increasing, Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told yesterday’s issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD).
“We are lacking 5000 soldiers and we must be acquiring arms intensively,” he said.
The government wants to add four to five billion crowns to the Czech defence budget every year, Babis said.
The Czech military has a budget of 47.78 billion crowns this year, which is four billion more than last year.
“Our soldiers are excellent, but they need proper equipment,” Finance Minister Babis told MfD, which is part of the huge Agrofert chemical, food-processing and media holding that Babis owns.
He said the rules for military purchases need to be reconsidered in the present “extraordinary situation.”
Babis believes that the army should have a specific position so that it is not “paralysed by the rules of public orders.”
“It is absolutely incredible how this prevents the state from prompt and reasonable investments,” he said.
The Czech Defence Ministry has long been criticised for its purchases not being transparent enough and for avoiding public tenders. Several cases ended up in court.
“We definitely should support domestic arms makers,” Babis pointed out.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) and President Milos Zeman supported this view.
“I welcome support for the domestic arms industry,” Zeman said after his talks with Babis on Tuesday.
“We had been an arms power, we had produced everything. We invented Semtex, this is part of it as well,” Babis told MfD about the country’s position in the pre-communist and communist eras.
“After the (1989 Velvet) Revolution we followed bad advice, unfortunately. The Defence Ministry was subject to fraud, corruption and bargaining from the beginning. They completely decimated the army,” he said.
Babis also indicated in the interview that Western Europe should respect that the Czech Republic and other countries were not used to multiculturalism and it should not force its welcoming attitude to immigrants from the Middle East on them.
He said German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a serious mistake when she invited the immigrants to Germany.
“The immigrants lived in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan. Millions of them were waiting for the war in Syria to end. All of a sudden, they received an invitation to Europe. It was absolutely incredible. The invitation was made without thinking, just so. And we are dealing with the consequences now,” Babis said.
Each EU member state should decide on a migration policy of its own, he added.
Babis said the Czech Republic should invite Ukrainians of professions that are on high demand in the country rather than Muslims. Czech firms need more workers, hospitals do not have enough nurses, he told MfD.