Prime Minister Sobotka calls for creation of EU army to complement NATO
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka gave a detailed outline on Monday of the foreign policy challenges faced by the Czech Republic and European Union. The remarks came as part of an annual address to the country’s ambassadors, which took place at the Czernin Palace headquarters of the Czech Foreign Ministry.
“Our experiences with the last migration wave have shown the importance of Europe’s internal borders. In the face of uncontrolled mass migration, even states in the centre of Europe have realized that internal borders must be better controlled… aside from better coordinated foreign and security policy, I also believe that in the long term, we will be unable to do without a joint European army.”
Sobotka stated his belief that such a force would not undermine NATO, but rather complement it, and also added that the Czech Republic would maintain close alliances with the US, no matter who wins the presidential elections there in November. Turning to Europe, and the impact of the Brexit vote in the UK, Sobotka warned that turning away from many of the tough debates faced by the continent would open the doors to “populists and extremists”. After urging the European Commission to back down from imposing migration quotas on member states “against their will” Sobotka made a point of reiterating his firm belief in the Czech Republic’s continued place in the EU:
Sobotka’s call for a pan-European army met with a negative reaction from a number of figures across the Czech political spectrum. The opposition TOP 09 party’s deputy chair Marek Ženíšek said that he believed the Czech Republic’s NATO commitments were sufficient to meet the country’s needs:
“I agree with all the other broad points laid out in the Prime Minister’s speech – from Ukraine, to Turkey, to the statement that the Czech Republic has no other alternative to EU and NATO membership. The one thing I cannot agree with is the creation of an EU army.”
The idea of a European army also faces much opposition throughout the rest of Europe, with many dismissing it little more than a pipe dream.