Czech Republic to re-evaluate its security and defence policy

Candles were lit on Prague's Wenceslas Square after the American tragedy

Tuesday's terrorist attacks against the United States have provoked worldwide reflection about how the world we live in is fragile and vulnerable. The speaker of the Lower House of the Czech Parliament and leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Vaclav Klaus, said that responsibility for the defence of society and the removal of terrorism from today's civilization lay with each of us, that the Czech Republic could not just rely on its larger, more powerful allies. The latest events have forced the Czech Republic to act fast on reinforcing security, and will inevitably lead to a rethinking of its longer-term security strategy. Alena Skodova spoke with Radek Kohl from the Institute for International Relations in Prague and asked him first if there existed an imminent threat for the Czech Republic?

"I don't think that at the moment the Czech Republic and it's citizens could be directly threatened if there were any attacks planned on a global scale they would have come within the last two days."

Czech politicians claim that security measures in the Czech Republic should be re-evaluated, so what can be done or changed in the future? Radek Kohl again:

"I think there will be some change in the priorities accessing various security risks and threats. And also about the measures which the Czech Republic can take against them and utilize it's resources which are annually devoted to defense purposes to face these challenges."

Could you specify what defense measures you have in mind?

"I think that there will probably be more funds directed towards analysis of potential risk areas of non-military attack of this kind or something which we call unconventional conduct of war. There also will be probably, be more resources devoted to current use of armed force which means less reliance on heavy platforms like tanks which was characteristic for the use of armed forces since the second World War and which now seem to be less relevant for the most likely threats we are facing."

This will certainly call for higher defence expenditures, but more money is likely to come from the state budget as of next year:

"There will be an increase of the defence budget for the next financial year, and the Czech Republic will keep in the long term the level of defence spending at 2.2% of it's GDP. So it's more about the internal structure of the defence budget and other parts of the state budget which is covering various parts of security."

The Czech Republic plans to turn its armed forces into a professional army within several years. Can we rely on better security and defence then? Radek Kohl again.

"The move toward the all volunteer force, or professional army, would certainly help because professionals could be trained in several specializations and they could be more useful in dealing with unpredictable risks and threats- which we might face in years to come. So this type of army, which would be smaller, would be in the final account, more efficient than the current mix of the conscript and professional army. On the other hand, I don't think that with terrorism or with other non-military threats should be exclusively dealt with by the army, after all it should be a co-ordination of police, army and intelligence services."