Security expert Andor Šandor: We are up to the task of providing tight security at EU presidency events

According to the results of an audit by the Supreme Audit Office, Czechia still lacks a comprehensive system for protecting so-called soft targets from terrorist attacks. The statement, released on Monday, has evoked concern regarding the level of security in the country, which is now moreover hosting dozens of events connected to the Czech Presidency of the EU Council. I asked Andor Šandor, former head of Czech military intelligence, and a respected security expert, for his take on the matter.  

“I do not know where this office takes the authority to make that kind of statement. At least from my perception it is up to the Ministry of Interior, intelligence organizations and others to say whether we are up to the task or not. Moreover, their analysis doesn’t necessarily mean that the Supreme Audit Office is right.

“Let me first say that there is no country in the world that can protect all the soft targets that are on its territory. If you look at what soft targets are – hospitals, schools, nurseries, department stores, shops, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and much more, you must realize that they cannot all be protected all the time – no country in the world has that kind of force at its disposal.”

How are they supposed to be protected and how much protection do they have in this country?

Andor Šandor | Photo: Elena Horálková,  Czech Radio

“Each of the soft targets should have their own security analysis to determine where the weak spots are and what can be done to enhance their security. They can hire a private organization for that purpose, they should have a crisis management plan, they should cooperate with the state authorities, with the fire brigade, with the police and others.

“And particularly at this time, when we have so many concerts and sports events, there should be proper security checks at entrances to make sure that nobody can enter the premises with fire-arms or explosives.  Again, I have to say that the idea that the world will be perfectly safe is unacceptable and naïve, however we have to do everything that we can to improve the given state of affairs in our country.”

Are you confident that we have sufficient protection? At least on a level that you would expect in any Western democracy?

“We have one big advantage in that we are considered one of the safest countries in the world. We were never part of any military actions or interventions in the Middle East or Northern Africa so we don’t have to be afraid of potential attacks because of that. On the other hand, like any country, we do have people who are not mentally stable, people who feel they were wronged, be it true or false, by hospitals, doctors or others, so that we have to accept the fact that an attack – an isolated attack – can happen anytime. We are living in a world that is far from perfect and where things like that simply happen.”

Given the ongoing Czech Presidency of the EU one would expect security to be extremely tight. Is everything in order in this respect?

Photo: Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union

“I think it is and when related events take place – like the EU summit at Prague Castle in the autumn – all the security measures required will be in place. We are used to doing this. We have hosted NATO and other summits in the past and we successfully protected the heads of the US and Russia when they visited this country. I am quite confident that the knowledge, expertise and power is in place to make all these events perfectly safe.”

run audio