Alexandr Vondra: both NATO and EU must remain strong

Autor: Oldrich Holecek

Czech Minister of Defence Alexandr Vondra and American diplomat Ron Asmus have received the Czech and Slovak Trans-Atlantic Award for their contribution to strenghtening transatlantic ties, peace, prosperity and stability within Euro-Atlantic area. The ceremony was held at the gala dinner of the Internatinal Security Conference GLOBSEC 2012 - Global Security Forum, held 12 - 14 April 2012 in Bratislava, Capital of the Slovak Republic.

Alexandr Vondra received the prize at the historical building of the Slovak National Council in person, while the award for Ron Amus, who died last year, was taken over by his wife Barbara Wilkinson.

Asmus, American diplomat and political scientist, was in the 1990s the strong promoter of a breaking idea to enlarge NATO with post-communist countries. „Ron Asmus had intellect but also sense,“ Alexandr Vondra remembered his friend. Organisers of the Forum awarded Ron Asmus for his unflagging and steady advancing of the idea of the transatlantic alliance and support to integration of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic into the North Atlantic Alliance.

According to words of Minister Vondra, it is today commitment of countries and governments to continue in legacy of such personalities, as Asmus belonged to. „Our task is to keep NATO and Europe strong,“ he said.

Situation, in which the Alliance is at present, is not ideal, according to him. Minister Vondra believes that also NATO needs to regain its credit at the public, for example, with "taking" soldiers to people. That is, to make more proactive presentation of NATO soldiers´s service, showing where their work is indispensable.

Alexandr Vondra spoke also about situation in Europe, which has direct influence to the state of the whole Alliance. He said that unstability of the "old continent", which is caused by finacial and political crises, was dangerous also because it makes NATO weaker.

The 7th annual Bratislava Global Security Forum GLOBSEC ranks to the five most important foreign policy conferences in Europe and North America. This year, the Forum is the last meeting of its kind before a key NATO Summit to be held in Chicago this May. More than five hundred European and world politicians, professionals and opinion-makers, security experts and businessmen debate issues of foreign affairs, security and economy in the Central Europe.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexandr Vershbow during the panel discussion said that the recipe for cuts in defence budgets were specialisation and closer cooperation within militaries. And this is the way the Czech response is. Minister Vondra said, that Czech contribution to the Smart Defence initiative was just specialisation and cooperation in one. The Czech Republic develops a project of the multinational centre for training of helicopter pilots and flying personnel. And Minister Vondra will present this Czech project, to which Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia could contribute at its beginning, at the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago.

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Posted: April 16, 2012