The Czech Republic agrees to US requests

Prime Minister Milos Zeman viewing a special army unit in Prostìjov, foto:

The Czech government has agreed to all eight U.S. requests addressed to NATO allies in connection with planned retaliatory action for September's terrorist attacks on the United States. Jan Velinger has the details.

It is official: all eight U.S. requests were accepted by the Czech Republic yesterday. Prime Minister Milos Zeman confirmed the news, while viewing a special army unit in action in Prostìjov, south Moravia. As a member of NATO, the Czech Republic will allow U.S. planes to use Czech airspace, and will provide airports for refueling. In Bosnia the Czech SFOR peacekeeping mission will be prolonged. The peacekeeping mission, which has helped bring stability to the region, was originally supposed to depart on September 15th. Now they will replace American forces, that will take part in the struggle against terrorism. And assistance will be provided to countries in potential danger for their support of the anti-terrorism campaign. Not surprisingly, there will be high costs: according to Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, it will be necessary to reduce minor army activities, while making drastic cuts in Defense Ministry spending.

"At present we have reevaluated the internal needs of our ministry, and we have decided to curtail the T 72 tank project, a move which should save 12 billion Czech crowns, which will help with reform and the strengthening of special army activities."

The saved finances will help the army fulfill its NATO requirements, which further include strengthening the cooperation of intelligence services, and increased security at U.S. and NATO buildings. Two requests do not concern the Czech Republic directly: one outlines an early warning system, the other movements of the navy. However, the government had to accept the eight requests as a whole. The ratification of U.S. requests by NATO follows the invoking of Article Five, the mutual defense clause which states that an attack on any member of the 19 nation alliance, is an attack upon all.