Czech President Petr Pavel has called on Germany to take on a leadership role in European security efforts that would inspire other countries as he visited Berlin on Tuesday.
According to Pavel, Germany should take the leadership position and “initiating role” in several areas, including the economy, the security and military efforts and the reconstruction of Ukraine.
“We are beginning to write a new chapter in European history, and I am convinced that a country like Germany can play a decisive role in this phase,” said Pavel after meeting his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
His comments, however, come after weeks of intense pressure from European partners was needed for Berlin to lift its blockage of providing Leopard II tanks to Ukraine. Since the tanks are German-made, other countries or private companies willing to send them to Ukraine needed the German government’s approval.
According to FAZ, the Czech president recommended speaking of German responsibility instead of leadership. There is often talk of “German leadership,” Pavel said, which would be a “sensitive issue” in some countries.
He pointed out that his counterpart Steinmeier had spoken of German responsibility and said: “I would be happy if we could call that German responsibility.”
“Germany can demonstrate its leadership in a number of areas,” Pavel said in Berlin.
“One of them is security and defence, not only by getting to the 2% GDP threshold but by being one of the states that can lead the efforts to make Europe more secure, by which I mean strengthening the European pillar of NATO, where Germany can play a major role,” the Czech President and former head of the NATO military committee explained.
Pavel mentioned that Germany acts in many NATO projects as a “framework nation”, which means that it provides the essential military equipment – such as logistics and command structure – to smaller states that do not have the capacity to build their own.
Berlin, due to its strong defence industrial base, has also said it would be ready to act as a so-called ‘lead nation’ in the latest EU push to buy ammunition for Ukraine, in which it would take the lead on contracting with companies on behalf of a coalition of member states of at least three member states.
Germany was the third country the new Czech president visited after his inauguration on 9 March. He first visited neighbouring Slovakia and then travelled to Poland, the second Visegrád country on his tour.
In Berlin, Pavel also said that Central European countries played a very active role in supporting Ukraine immediately after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Thanks to this activity, the region raised self-confidence and became a solid pro-Ukrainian voice in Europe.
“It would be unfortunate if we were to be caught up in an intra-European rivalry between traditional Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe with its newly acquired self-confidence,” Pavel said, adding that this situation should be used to “further consolidate European unity”.