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Senate approves reinforcement of military missions abroad

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Prague, May 17 (CTK) – The Czech Senate smoothly approved the reinforcement of some current military missions abroad and the new presence of troops in the Baltics by the votes of 54 out of the 57 present senators on Thursday.

However, the missions are yet to be approved by the Chamber of Deputies, whose defence committee did not issue any recommendation last week.

The enlargement of the missions is opposed by the Communists (KSCM) who say this is an obstacle to its tolerance of the minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD).

Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (ANO) was speaking about non-combat, peace-keeping and training missions in the Senate.

She said they arose from the commitments to NATO and the EU, contributing to the limitation of terrorism and migration.

“The proposal is in full harmony with the Czech Republic’s security strategy,” Slechtova said.

Under the government plan, the Czech Republic is to send up to 275 soldiers more to Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali.

In the next two years, the military is to take part in the same missions as now. In the second half of 2019, up to 96 Czech troops are to help air policing over the Baltics.

The reinforced foreign operations are to cost 2.1 to 2.4 billion crowns a year.

The current empowerment makes it possible for up to 806 Czech soldiers to take part in foreign missions. Along with Afghanistan, Mali and Iraq, they are also deployed at the Golan Heights, in Sinai and Kosovo.

Under the proposal, their number is to rise to 1,081 by the end of this year and to 1,191 next year.

In 2020, up to 1,096 Czech soldiers are to participate in the missions.

Later this year, up to 140 further soldiers are to leave for Afghanistan.

Now the Czech military has the mandate for 250 soldiers, who are in Kabul and at the Bagram base. They are newly to go to the Logar province, to train a special Afghan police unit and the Herat province, to help train the Afghan soldiers.

In Mali, the mandate is to be increased from 50 to 120 soldiers. The Czech military wants to have another unit in the country to protect and escort the soldiers of the EU training mission.

A small expert team of up to 30 soldiers is also to be sent to the U.N. mission in Mali.

Up to 110, instead of the current 65 soldiers are to go to Iraq. Next year, a chemical warfare unit may leave for the country.

The KSCM said on Saturday that if the government policy statement included the commitment to enhance the military missions abroad, the party would not back the government.

The draft statement promises to enhance the Czech presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, also speaking about a contribution to the NATO armed forces in the Baltics and the rapid response forces.

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