Washington - The USA is dissatisfied with the Czech Republic' too low defence budget that is twice smaller than that prescribed by the NATO rules, Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said about a meeting between the Czech and U.S. defence ministers, Jan Stropnicky and Chuck Hagel, respectively, on Tuesday.
"It was put politely, but clearly," Stropnicky said on a video recording released by Pejsek.
"Less than 1.1 percent of GDP is too little," he added.
"For a country paying 1.8, 1.9 or 2 percent it is rather difficult to send its troops to a country that only pays 0.8 percent under Article 5 [of the NATO treaty] and defend it back home," Stropnicky said, explaining the U.S. position on most European allies.
Hence the need for the Czech Republic to increase its military budget, Stropnicky said.
"This cannot be done immediately. Actually, we would not be able to invest the money reasonably. But what matters is a trend," he added.
The reduction of expenditures should be halted and then they should be increased, depending on economic growth, Stropnicky said.
"In the security sphere, one cannot run into debt. This is unbearable," Stropnicky said.
He said he had agreed with Hagel that the demand of raised defence budgets should be voiced in a uniform way at the NATO summit in Cardiff this autumn.
Thanks to this, it will be easier for individual ministers and governments to advocate the idea before the public, Stropnicky said.
Turning to the current Ukrainian crisis that has revived the debates about NATO members' defence budgets, Stropnicky told Hagel that the Czech Republic offered its four Gripen fighters for the protection of the eastern borders of Baltic countries and Poland.
Stropnicky said the Czech Republic was interested in joining regular joint exercises of the USA and Poland that might also be held at the air base in Caslav, central Bohemia.