Czech Defense Minister, Martin Stropnický, has signed a defense bill with his German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, signaling an era of closer military cooperation.
The meeting took place in Brussels last week and the bilateral agreement was rushed through. Vladimíra Vítová, head of the Czech Peace Forum called the deal a subordination of the Czech military to Germany and denounced the defense minister’s authority to make such a move.
The 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade, considered amongst the Czech Republic’s finest, is to be moved under the command of the German Bundeswehr. The brigade consists of 2 mechanized infantry battalions, one airborne battalion, and a light motorized battalion.
“Martin Stropnicky doesn’t have the authority to take this kind of step. It’s a very important decision, so at the least, it should be discussed by the National Security Council, so that the subordination of the Czech army to German command is approved by President Zeman, the supreme commander of the armed forces of the Czech Republic. I’m not even talking about the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. Nonetheless, I don’t know that the President or any deputies have expressed any opinions on the matter. Why has there been no discussion about this issue? This is the first time since 1918 that part of our army, and even more so voluntarily, has been subordinated to Germany. We have never fought for Germany in the entire history of our country.” Vladimíra Vítová said.
A spokesman for the defense ministry, Boris Nannt, dismissed the fears: “They will be doing exercises together. This is not subordination for the Czech troops, it’s an assignment to a German division,” Nannt explained.
Some within the army top brass are pleased with the move as it allows for the army to gain experience at working alongside troops from other nations.
“We want to better prepare our troops for a possible joint deployment in the context of larger army groups,” – Czech army spokesman, Jan Šulc.
Vladimíra Vítová seemed unconvinced:
“Boris Nannt says that this is not subordination, but joining one of the German divisions. But is it permissible for Czech soldiers to start obeying German command, call it what you want. Are we not damaging the authority of the Czech army? If we want to give up our own sovereignty, which, of course, nobody asked the citizens of the Czech Republic about, then this step by the ANO party and Defense Minister Stropnicky is quite understandable. They are just giving us away to Germany behind our own backs. It is not just about the authority of the Czech army, but about the gradual restriction of our country’s sovereignty and independence, which the current government is carrying out right before our eyes, with the tacit consent of the Chamber of Deputies and, unfortunately, the President himself.”