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Cabinet neutral on constitution change for missions abroad

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Prague, Dec 5 (CTK) – The Czech government adopted a neutral stance on the constitutional amendment broadening its right to send soldiers to foreign missions without the consent of both parliamentary houses in accordance with a recommendation by government legislation experts yesterday.
According to the preliminary stance, the government members were to support the amendment, but they were also to point out that changes to the constitution should only be made exceptionally.
Along with the main drafter, Jana Cernochova, a deputy for the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the legislation was also signed by Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) and the Chamber of Deputies chairman, Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD).
The government may have the right to send Czech troops abroad, such as to rescue Czech citizens if they are threatened.
If the conditions are less strict, Czech military units may also be deployed within the NATO Response Force (NRF).
According to legislation experts, the government should say the amendment should be preceded by a comprehensive analysis of the current state of affairs. Based on it, a government-proposed amendment is to be drafted.
“The proposed amendment will enable the state to react rapidly and efficiently to emergency situations that may occur quite unexpectedly due to the basic change in the security environment in the world in the past years,” the report on the constitutional amendment, also signed by lawmakers for the opposition TOP 09 and Dawn, says.
Hamacek and Stropnicky said due to the general support for the legislation, its approval could be smooth.
The debate on the current wording of the constitution regarding the deployment of troops has been waged for long.
At present, the Czech government can only send troops abroad for 60 days and on a very limited scale.
The constitution speaks about the fulfilment of the commitments arising from international treaties, a joint protection against attack, participation in peace-keeping operations based on a decision by an international organisation, provided the recipient country consents to this, and about rescue works in elemental disasters or industrial and environmental calamities.
The constitutional amendment is to cancel the three conditions. Like now, the government is supposed to inform the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, while the parliament is to be able to cancel a government decision to this effect.
However, the lawmakers would not have to receive the information immediately, but without a unnecessary delay.
The Defence Ministry and another seven ministries are for the amendment, while the industry and trade as well as transport ministries are against it.
The Justice Ministry expressed some remarks on it and the Interior Ministry has doubts, arguing that given the Czech Republic’s historical experience, the limitation of the parliament’s powers and their transfer to the government is disputable and perhaps dangerous.

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