published: 23.01.2013, 13:31 | updated: 23.01.2013 13:34:04
Prague - The two Czech presidential candidates, Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) and Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) approve Czech armed forces´ further participation in foreign missions if necessary, they said in their interviews with CTK released today.
They appreciated the Czechs´ operation in Afghanistan.
The second round of the direct presidnetial election will be held on January 25-26.
Zeman, former Social Democrat prime minister, said he is ready to visit Czech soldiers in the country if elected, which no Czech head of state has done as yet.
The president is supreme commander of the armed forces.
Zeman said he is sceptical about that the military in its currend dimension would be capable of defending the Czech border from a possible outer attack.
Schwarzenberg, foreign minister and TOP 09 head, said Czech soldiers are well trained to defend their homeland and added aid in natural disasters should also be part of the training.
"In Afghanistan we have gained a very good reputation. As supreme commander of the armed forces I will do my best for the military to have enough opportunities and means to maintain this reputation," Schwarzenberg said.
Zeman said "I think it is more advantageous if we are fighting terrorists thousands of kilometres away from our border instead of allowing them to multiply here and to eventually blast a Prague bridge, the Prague metro or the Temelin (nuclear power plant)," Zeman said.
"I am convinced that they (Czech soldiers) are to be deployed in other parts of the world, but only within NATO or the EU," Schwarzenberg said.
"I think the military has two fundamental tasks. The first is to participate in the integrated rescue system, such as in natural disasters. The other one is participation in foreign missions," Zeman said.
Czechs could offer the allies their well-known chemical unit or a field hospital, as well as special combat units.
He said it is "minimally naive to believe that with 35 action-capable tanks the military could alone defend our territory within the ´territoral defence,´" Zeman said.
Zeman and Schwarzenberg differ on a possible preemptive attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Zeman said it is better to destroy ballistic missiles launch pads, ro bases where Iran may be working on the production of a nuclear bomb.
"I have long been against further military steps," Schwarzenberg said.
Zeman and Schwarzenberg have similar opinions of a possible Czech mediation mission in the Middle East.
"Any greater role of the Czech Republic would only be considered if we were asked for it by both sides," Schwazrenberg said.
"A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rests in the hands of the great powers rather than in the hands of the Czech republic that - I do not know whether should say unfortunately or fortunately - is no great power in any case," Zeman said.
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