published: 27.08.2013, 17:26 | updated: 27.08.2013 19:38:36
Prague - The Czech Republic could more participate in the United Nations peacekeeping missions and Czech troops could be deployed in the Golan Heights between Israel and the war-torn Syria, President Milos Zeman told Czech diplomats today.
"It would be very useful if the Czech Republic took part in the U.N. peacekeeping missions more intensively," he said.
Zeman said he agreed on this with the outgoing interim government of Jiri Rusnok on Monday.
"As the situation in Syria is rather unclear, I believe that the filling of the security vacuum by Czech troops might markedly raise the prestige of the Czech Republic," Zeman said.
He said Czech troops could contribute to the Middle East peace process or at least lower the risk of the armed conflict escalation in Syria.
Austria recently announced that it would withdraw its members from the UNDOF observer mission in the Golan Heights due to the deteriorating security situation.
The Czech military is prepared to send troops to the UNDOF mission if it is in the interest of the Czech foreign policy, Czech Defence Ministry spokeswoman Mira Trebicka said.
A mandate approved by the Czech constitutional bodies was of course needed, Trebicka said.
The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) members have been operating in the zone between Israel and Syria. The situation in the zone was calm before the Syrian civil war.
The Syrian civil war started in March 2011 and more than 100,000 people have died so far. The West is allegedly considering taking military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad to punish him for a gas attack that claimed hundreds of civilian victims.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Monday the government was dealing with the possible further participation in military missions not only within the European Union and NATO but also within the United Nations.
Zeman noted today that U.N. missions would not burden the Czech state budget as their costs are covered by the United Nations.
Along with other allied forces, the Czech military is withdrawing from the long-lasting mission in Afghanistan and the Czech army commanders are discussing the soldiers´ future deployment.
A small number of Czech troops are guarding the headquarters of the EU training mission in Mali's capital Bamako and they will train the Malian army.
Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek said the Czech military might start using the CASA transport aircraft in risky regions soon as the CASA passive protection system is finally functioning.
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