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More Czech soldiers may be deployed in foreign missions

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Prague, March 21 (CTK) – Defence Minister Karla Slechtova proposed to increase the current mandate, under which 806 Czech soldiers may operate within military missions abroad, by 175 soldiers this year and further 110 soldiers in 2019, her ministry announced on Wednesday.

“The proposal requires reinforced participation of Czech troops in the main crisis regions,” the ministry’s spokesman Petr Sykora said.

Up to 1081 Czech soldiers would be deployed in foreign missions this year, up to 1191 in 2019 and 1096 in 2020, according to the ministry’s report that Slechtova submitted to the cabinet on Wednesday.

The new mandate for the Czech participation in multinational missions needs to be approved by the government and both houses of parliament. Especially the Communist Party (KSCM) and the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) right-wing populist movement criticised the Czech participation in the foreign missions.

The reinforced missions would cost the military 2.1 to 2.4 billion crowns a year, which is under 4 percent of the country’s defence budget.

This year, more soldiers could be sent to Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali.

Slechtova said the country’s defence remains the priority of the military.

Up to 390 troops are to be deployed in Afghanistan where they would continue training the Afghan armed forces and protecting allies in the Logar and Herat provinces.

Up to 110 troops are to be in Iraq to keep training the local soldiers, policemen and experts on protection against weapons of mass destruction. Czech chemists are to start operating in the country next year.

Up to 150 troops are to operate in Mali in 2018-2020, 120 within the EUTM European Union mission and 30 within the MINUSMA United Nations mission.

Czech air forces are to help protect the airspace over the Baltic states. Five Gripen fighters and 95 troops will be sent to the Baltics next year, according to the plan.

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