published: 12.06.2012, 17:28 | updated: 12.06.2012 17:29:37
Prague - The Czech Chamber of Deputies today passed the plan of military's foreign missions for next two years in which Afghanistan remains the priority, though Czech presence there will be gradually reduced.
Czech units in Afghanistan will focus on the training of local soldiers and police and their combat activities will be lowered, Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra said.
Under the government plan, up to 539 Czech soldiers are to be deployed in Afghanistan in 2013. In 2014 the figure is to be lowered to a maximum of 340.
Vondra said at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, there would be only 150 soldiers there. Some 20 special forces members will protect the Czech diplomatic office in Kabul.
"We emphasise the continuity of our presence," Vondra said, adding that he had discussed the plan of the missions with the opposition.
Opposition Social Democrat shadow defence minister Jan Hamacek said the government had embarked on the path of rationalising the soldiers's participation in missions, although Social Democrats could imagine a faster pullout from Afghanistan.
Communist Chamber of Deputies member Alexander Cerny spoke about a military adventure in connection with Afghanistan.
The reduction of combat effort within the ISAF operation is in keeping with the NATO general strategy that wants to pass responsibility for Afghanistan's security to the local population.
NATO countries are not fully leaving the country as they want to train the military and police for some time there.
A maximum of ten soldiers will be in the KFOR mission in Kosovo and a maximum of three in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the next two years.
Three military officers are to be still in the command of the EU anti-pirate operation Atalanta in Britain.
The Czech military will send up to 40 soldiers to NATO and EU command structures anywhere in the world.
The plan also reckons with the deployment of 50 people and four Jas-39 Gripen aircraft in the aerial protection of Iceland for five weeks in 2014.
Some 1.6 billion crowns are to be spent on foreign missions next year and 1.3 billion in 2014.
The Senate, dominated by the Social Democrats, is likely to approve the missions as well. Its defence committee recommended this unanimously today.
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