published: 19.09.2013, 17:46 | updated: 19.09.2013 17:58:53
Brussels - Czech President Milos Zeman has been supporting the allied effort for a long time, he told journalists after his talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels today.
Zeman recalled that he first visited the NATO headquarters in Brussels 15 years ago as Czech prime minister.
Zeman said the talks also covered Syria. He pointed out that the involvement of al-Qaeda terrorist network´s fighters in the conflict is unclear.
Rasmussen and Zeman discussed the Czech defence budget, among others.
Rasmussen said his talks with Zeman raised hope that there is political will to avert the trend of a decreasing defence budget in the Czech Republic.
NATO members have pledged to earmark at least 2 percent of its GDP to defence. The Czech Republic gives 1.1 percent of GDP for defence, however, low defence spending is a common problem in NATO.
The Czechs should invest more in defence as their economy starts recovering, Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen praised Czech participation in the military missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
NATO reckons with further Czech participation, he said, referring to a non-combat Afghan mission focusing on training Afghan armed forces.
Rasmussen said his talks with Zeman also concerned Czech military´s capability in fighting weapons of mass destruction.
Zeman visited Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, meeting European Commission President Jose Barroso, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and EU President Herman von Rompuy.
Among the topics Zeman discussed were the visas Canada has reimposed on Czechs, restriction of tobacco products, the lacking Czech civil service law and Czech problems in drawing EU subsidies.
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