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Právo: Most Czech parties see no need for US troops in country

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Prague, June 15 (CTK) – Most Czech politicians say there is no need to have U.S. troops and arms on the Czech territory because the country does not face an imminent threat, daily Pravo writes Monday in reaction to news about planned reinforced U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe.

Citing a U.S. official requesting anonymity, the Reuters news agency wrote that the USA plans to store heavy arms in the Baltic and East European countries to reassure its allies alarmed by Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.

Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told the paper that the information, first released by the New York Times on Saturday, has not been verified.

We know for sure that the decision was approved neither by the U.S. Defense Ministry nor by the White House, it is just a rumour, Stropnicky said.

The Social Democrats (CSSD) of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis said the Czech Republic is not among the threatened regions, Pravo writes.

The Communists (opposition KSCM) are strongly against the possible deployment of U.S. troops in the country, while the junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the right-wing opposition believe that the issue is worth discussing.

Both the Czech government parties and the right-wing opposition welcomed the U.S. military convoy driving from the Baltics via the Czech Republic to Germany earlier this year as a demonstration of support to the allies who feel threatened by the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said on Sunday he “can see no reason” for the deployment of U.S. troops on Czech soil from the military perspective.

Babis shared this view.

Stropnicky told Pravo that the Baltic states and Poland clearly want U.S. soldiers to be deployed on their territories. He said the meeting of EU defence ministers might deal with the issue.

Jan Hamacek (CSSD), chairman of the lower house of parliament, said the Czech Republic does not feel any imminent threat.

However, other EU countries of course have the right to make their own decision if they feel that they need a guarantee of security in form of the deployment of allied troops, Hamacek said.

Communist lower house group head Pavel Kovacik told the paper that the possible stationing of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe is just another effort to escalate a conflict.

“It shows again that the U.S. policy is barbarian,” Kovacik said.

On the contrary, Civic Democrat (right-wing opposition ODS) deputy chairman Jan Zahradil said he would not have the slightest objection against the permanent presence of U.S. soldiers in the Czech Republic.

Zahradil said the U.S. military presence would make the Czech Republic more trustworthy for its NATO allies. “I don’t share the reserved position of the Czech government (on the deployment),” he told public Czech Television (CT) on Sunday.

Right-wing opposition TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said he can understand why the Baltics want the reinforced military presence.

In the Czech Republic, the deployment of U.S. troops should be carefully considered and not decided emotionally, however, Schwarzenberg said.

Mayors and Independents (opposition STAN) head Petr Gazdik said the situation in Europe has been the most disturbed since the time of World War Two, and the Russian actions, especially in Crimea, require a reaction, yet all must be thoroughly considered.

Lower house deputy chairman Jan Bartosek (KDU-CSL) said the deployment of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe seems a correct and logical step because Russia is no longer a partner for NATO and its military ambition raises concern, mainly in the Baltics, that these countries might become the target of Russian aggression.

The United States shows its readiness to meet the allied commitments and defend the NATO territory, he told the paper.

The Czech Republic, too, should be prepared to reinforce the defence capabilities of the Baltic states, Bartosek said.

“It depends on whether Russia would end its aggression in Ukraine and stop unnerving its neighbours by its actions,” he told Pravo.

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