Czech minister to discuss US troop presence on Washington trip
The minister of defence in the Prague government is set to discuss the possibility of US troops being stationed on Czech territory at high level meetings in Washington. A cabinet colleague has identified possible locations – and suggests Ukraine would not be in its present situation if it had such bases.
The Czech minister of defence, Jana Černochová of the Civic Democrats, is due to fly to Washington after Easter for bilateral talks with the US secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin.
Among the items on the agenda will be the possibility of American troops being stationed on Czech territory, Minister Černochová told the news outlet Deník N.
The idea had in the past been raised by a party colleague: MEP and former ambassador to Washington Alexandr Vondra.
Ms. Černochová told Deník N that the Czech Republic could follow the model of Slovakia, where a treaty allows the Americans to use two air force bases for a 10-year period.
However, the Czech defence chief refused to go into details, saying the most important thing was to get the ball rolling on a treaty.
It could take a while before it is accepted by both sides and ratified by both houses of the Czech Parliament, she said.
The Czech prime minister later reiterated that the decision would not be for his government alone.
Petr Fiala said that it was, however, seeking all means of making sure that the Czech Republic was capable of standing up to the kind of aggression Russia’s President Putin was currently inflicting on Ukraine.
On Sunday the minister of labour and social affairs, Marian Jurečka, discussed the matter on a politics show on CNN Prima News. He and his fellow ministers have not yet spoken about it, he said.
“It’s a subject that the government will discuss. It’s not the case that the government would just decide about it and say, This is what we want; the government can’t do that.
“It has to be based on broad discussion and consensus, at the level of Parliament.
“But let’s consider an example – if there were such a base in Ukraine then probably the situation we are all dealing with at present would not have come up.
“Because Russia would never have dared such an attack.”
Mr. Jurečka also identified two possible locations for such bases, Přerov, which is near Olomouc, and Mošnov, which is 70 kilometres away in the Moravian-Silesian Region.
In any case, it may not be all plain sailing on the issue at the cabinet table.
Czech Pirate Party leader and Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš told Deník N that it was unfortunate that the issue of the bases had first been aired in the media.
The coalition government has not discussed the matter and it is not part of the joint programme that the five parties put their signatures to, Mr. Bartoš said.
Meanwhile Minister Černochová’s US visit will also include the removal of the remains of Brigadier General František Moravec to the Czech Republic.
Moravec, who during WWII was commander of Czechoslovak intelligence under the exile government in London, will be reburied in his native Čáslav in accordance with his wishes.