- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023
Czech Republic Ratifies Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States Amid Controversy and Parliamentary Approval
Prague, [Date] – The Czech Republic has officially ratified a defense cooperation agreement with the United States, marking a significant step in strengthening bilateral defense ties. The agreement was signed by President Petr Pavel, as announced in a press release from the Hrad. However, it still awaits the signature of Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), who will formalize the agreement upon his return from vacation in Croatia.
The defense cooperation agreement faced opposition from those who are against the presence of US soldiers on Czech soil. Despite the protests, both chambers of the Czech parliament expressed their support for the document, with a majority of legislators voting in favor. In the Senate, 66 out of 72 voted in favor, and in the Chamber of Deputies, 115 out of 144 present legislators supported the agreement.
Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS) emphasized that the defense agreement with the United States strengthens security guarantees for the Czech Republic, particularly in light of the ongoing Russian military aggression against Ukraine. She highlighted the importance of a strong alliance with democratic countries during this challenging period.
Government officials and representatives of the opposition ANO movement clarified that the agreement does not involve the immediate presence of US soldiers or the construction of military bases in the Czech Republic. They reaffirmed that any longer-term presence of US military forces would require parliamentary approval, with the defense agreement regulating the legal status of US soldiers during their stay. They also dismissed any comparisons of this agreement to the “temporary” presence of Soviet troops in former Czechoslovakia after 1968.
The defense cooperation agreement brings the Czech Republic in line with most NATO countries, which already have similar defense agreements with the United States. The Czech Republic was among the few Eastern European NATO members without such an agreement until now.
The comprehensive 40-page document covers various aspects related to the potential presence of US soldiers in the Czech Republic and cooperation between the US and Czech armed forces on Czech territory. It addresses the legal status of US soldiers, environmental protection, the use of motor vehicles by US personnel and their families, and the status of US armed forces contractors. The agreement also grants exemptions for US soldiers from taxes and customs duties in the Czech Republic. Furthermore, it includes a list of military facilities and spaces belonging to the Czech military that the US armed forces can utilize under agreed conditions.
To accompany the ratification proposal, the Chamber of Deputies adopted a resolution proposed by ANO. The resolution highlighted that the agreement deepens practical defense cooperation with the United States, contributing to heightened security for the Czech Republic. It stressed that the deal does not grant the US armed forces the right to establish permanent military bases in the Czech Republic or to stay in the country without prior Czech consent. It also prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons.
With the ratification complete, the Czech Republic moves forward with reinforced defense cooperation with the United States, signaling a commitment to enhancing security and stability in the region.
Article by Prague Forum
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- Hans Weber
- December 7, 2023