Munich, Germany, Feb 18 (CTK correspondent) – The Czech Republic is able to increase defence spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2025, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told CTK at an international defence conference in Munich Saturday, in reaction to the U.S. demand.
The NATO member states pledged in 2014 to increase their defence expenditures at least to 2 percent of GDP in ten years. So far only five of the members, including the United States, meet this commitment.
The administration of new U.S. President Donald Trump now urges the allies to fulfil their promise and increase their defence spending.
Stropnicky is of the view that the Czech Republic is developing into the right direction when it comes to defence spending since it annually rises by 9-10 percent.
“I am firmly convinced that we are able to keep what we promised at the begining of this government’s term in office, which means 1.4 percent [spent on defence] in 2020. And the gradual rise to 2 percent by 2025 is realistic,” Stropnicky pointed out.
Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said everything like that was a matter of agreement.
He added that it would be nonsensical if the Czech Republic tried to meet this commitment in a few years.
Zaoralek also mentioned the necessity of a broader approach to defence.
The European delegates repeatedly stressed that many steps must be taken in reaction to threats, they talked about development aid and fight with climate changes, he said.
Stropnicky criticised this approach, calling it “diluting” the problem, which, he said, seemed to him “European” in the bad sense of the word.
It is naturally necessary to create jobs and support science and research, but this is another debate, he added.
Both Czech ministers welcomed that the United States had clearly declared its alliance with Europe and within NATO Saturday.
Stropnicky said he was convinced that the words by U.S. representatives from the past days had calmed down the situation to a certain extent and assured European partners that the bond between Europe and the United States was firm and timeless.
He also said he perceived the speeches by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense James Mattis as constructive and qualified.