Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka visits the Ministry of Defence

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

As part of his tour of Czech government ministries, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met with Minister of Defence Martin Stropnicky on 31st July. At the end of his visit Mr Sobotka reaffirmed his view on the importance of personnel and economic stability within the Department of Defence.

During his visit, Mr Sobotka highlighted the importance of the increase in the defence budget for 2015 to 43.5 billion Czech Crowns, adding that this figure represents the "minimum necessary" for the military to be better able to meet their commitments to NATO.

Both politicians confirmed that the coalition‘s agreement to a gradual increase in the defence budget will be maintained, and would take place over the next few years. "The agreement states that a target of 1.4 % of GDP should be reached before 2020," said Mr Sobotka, adding that this realistic target would effectively enable the Czech Republic to fulfil its obligations within the Alliance.

Prime Minister Sobotka praised the new management at the Ministry of Defence for their efforts in increasing efficiency in finding ways to decrease spending and improve transparency, areas which, for him, had been "considerabely lacking" in recent years.

Martin Stropnicky said that his office had already saved about 1.3 billion Czech Crowns from this year’s budget alone. “It was achieved by cancelling some investment projects which we considered unnecessary,“ said Mr Stropnicky. The Ministry has also sold some non-essential properties for almost a quarter of a billion Czech Crowns. "A similar amount is now ready for sale", he added.

Mr Sobotka also expressed his satisfaction with the concluded first part of the sale of the non-essential L-159 ALCA aircraft. Effective savings could also be achieved by closer cooperation with Slovakia, specifically in the military and defense industries of the two countries. "I believe that there may be many beneficial synergies between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, in terms of military armament, training, joint operations abroad, as well as cooperation in the defence industry."

August 6, 2014