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Czech official: Trump clearly endorses allied commitments

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Warsaw, July 6 (CTK special correspondent) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s clear endorsement of commitments towards allies within NATO was a key message he sent out in Warsaw on Thursday, Jan Hamacek, Czech Chamber of Deputies chairman, told Czech journalists.

He represented the Czech Republic at a meeting of 12 central and east European countries with Trump in Warsaw.

Trump’s stance was welcomed by Miroslav Kalousek, chairman of the opposition conservative TOP 09.

Jiri Dolejs, Communist (KSCM) deputy chairman, said the United States is pushing NATO towards its power interests that are not identical with Europe’s.

“On behalf of the United States, President Trump unequivocally endorsed the North Atlantic Treaty and its Article 5 (on collective defence). This was said utterly clearly,” Hamacek said.

“Naturally, he conditioned this on all fulfilling their commitments, which the Czech Republic comprehends. Still before Donald Trump raised these demands, our government decided to increase the defence budget to 1.4 percent of GDP with the outlook of 2 percent. The Czech Republic is serious about the issue,” Hamacek said.

Kalousek told CTK that Trump’s demand that NATO member countries honour their defence spending commitments is comprehensible and TOP 09 supports it.

He also praised Trump’s having said that Russia is threatening Europe’s stability with its activities.

Dolejs said Article 5 of the NATO treaty can be interpreted loosely and that providing aid need not be automatic.

“It is therefore a political declaration which the Poles wanted to hear, but it forces us to more activity in the financial sphere as well participation in controversial missions,” Dolejs wrote to CTK.

“In addition, the statements of Trump, who still recently challenged the degree of NATO’s commitment in Europe, are not much credible. The EU should continue to consider its own view of security,” Dolejs said.

Trump said in Warsaw that all NATO members countries must be fulfilling their financial commitments towards the Alliance.

He praised Poland for being one of a few NATO members who send the agreed-upon 2 percent of their GDP to defence.

The Czech Republic is not fulfilling this goal, but like the other member countries it has pledged to do so by 2024.

Hamacek said he is glad that after years of negotiations with U.S. politicians and after a change of U.S. regulations, the offer of imports of U.S. liquefied gas from the United States, also as a way to decrease dependence on Russian gas, was discussed during Trump’s visit.

“It is good for all in Europe to have an alternative. The Czech Republic already has it, it can import gas from Norway, for instance. But there are countries which do not have this alternative, such as the Baltic countries, and they learnt the disadvantage when they paid Gazprom invoices,” Hamacek said.

“The American gas may start a competition struggle and this will benefit all consumers because the competition struggle usually presses prices down,” he said.

Hamacek said the Czech Republic does not have any problems with gas deliveries now.

Asked why the Czech Republic was not represented in Warsaw on the presidential level like a crushing majority of the other countries, Hamacek said this question must be addressed to the Presidential Office.

“The president assigned me to represent him here. This is his right and I gladly accepted the assignment. This has not been for the first time,” Hamacek said.

Hamacek said the Three Sees initiative, which was discussed during the meeting with Trump, “is not an alternative for EU membership” and that it “cannot be comprehended as a alternative or an eastern wing of the EU.”

However, it would be good to improve the state of infrastructure or energy security in central and east Europe this way, too, Hamacek said.

“In this sense the initiative is meaningful and it is good that we participate in it. Nevertheless, it cannot be an alternative to the Union as a whole,” he said.

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