Prague - The Czech military is prepared to send up to 250 soldiers, who were originally to be deployed to Mali, to the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic, chief-of-staff Petr Pavel told CTK today.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) to send soldiers to the planned U.N. peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic during his visit to Prague last Friday.
The general staff planned to send up to 250 troops to the MINUSMA mission in Mali but its capacity was filled by troops from other countries.
Consequently, the Czech Republic could offer the same soldiers to a mission in the Central African Republic, Pavel said.
The possibility to send Czech transport helicopters to Mali was also discussed. However, the military has a rather reserved stance on their service in the CAR.
"It is possible technically but on the other hand, we have experience with the deployment of helicopters in Afghanistan. We know how much effort and money it cost," Pavel told CTK.
The deployment of Czech soldiers to the Central African Republic depends on the Czech government´s stance only.
After a meeting with Ban, Sobotka assigned the Defence Ministry to consider the request.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) promised that he would discuss possible Czech participation in the Central African Republic with the Foreign Ministry and the general staff as soon as possible.
Violent clashes between Christians and Muslims have so far claimed hundreds of lives in the Central African Republic and almost one million people have left their homes.
Ban said 12,00 soldiers and police could take part in the CAR mission. The U.N. has 6000 African soldiers for the peacekeeping mission, 2000 Frenchmen and 1000 troops from the EU. It needs another 3000.
If the Czech Republic took part in the peace-keeping mission, the U.N. would cover all costs, Ban said.