Vienna - The Czech Republic does not call for boosting NATO's military presence in Europe as it does not need it in view of the current security situation, Czech Prime Bohuslav Minister Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told reporters during his visit to Austria today.
He reacted to a statement by U.S. President Barack Obama who announced in Warsaw that the United States would boost its military presence in Europe.
Sobotka said some European countries, including Poland and Baltic nations, were turning to NATO with a request to increase the military presence at the continent, but the Czech Republic does not need anything like this.
"I think that such a presence has only some logic depending on the security situation," he added.
"The Czech Republic is not and will not be among the countries to call for an increased presence of NATO troops in Europe," Sobotka said.
He said he believed an increase in NATO units in Europe might not be on the order of the day for a number of years.
Sobotka said this depended on the development of the security situation.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) said Sobotka's statement was enormously sensitive and had to be perceived in the context in which it was said.
Stropnicky said he did not think any allies might perceive Sobotka's words negatively.
Small Baltic nations that are Russia's close neighbours consider the threat to them differently than the countries situated farther from Moscow, Stropnicky said.
Stropnicky said the Czech Republic could join the current operations provoked by the eastern crisis by taking part in a joint air exercise along with the USA and Poland.
"We would like to be the third country to participate in this. We have the fighters, we have the airport capacities," Stropnicky said.
After meeting his Polish opposite number Bronislaw Komorowski in Warsaw earlier today, Obama said the USA would send more troops and equipment to the European continent in reaction to the new security challenges.
Obama has asked the Congress to provide support worth one billion dollars. By boosting the U.S. military presence in Europe, he is trying to reassure the NATO allies following Russia's threatening moves in Ukraine.