Czech-US defense cooperation agreement approved after heated parliamentary debate

Most parties except for the right-wing SPD supported the document, which now awaits the president's signature. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 20.07.2023 10:14:00 (updated on 17.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, approved a defense cooperation agreement between the Czech Republic and the United States. The agreement, which had already received the Senate's approval last week, now awaits President Petr Pavel's signature to be officially ratified.

The parliamentary debate surrounding the agreement lasted for four and a half hours. Deputies from the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) were critical of the pact and raised concerns about its potential impact on the nation's sovereignty.

Despite the opposition, the agreement received substantial support, with 115 out of 144 present MPs voting in favor of ratification. It garnered backing from representatives of five government parties and a majority of lawmakers from the opposition ANO movement. However, 14 SPD deputies and four from ANO voted against the deal.

Defense Minister Jana Černochová emphasized the significance of the defense agreement, stating that it provides the Czech Republic with an additional security guarantee, especially given the current security situation amid Russian military aggression against Ukraine. She highlighted the necessity of a strong alliance with democratic countries in these turbulent times.

Agreement covers rules for U.S. troop presence

The approximately 40-page document covers various aspects related to the potential U.S. troop presence in the Czech Republic and the cooperation between U.S. and Czech armed forces on Czech territory. It addresses issues such as the legal status of U.S. soldiers, environmental protection, operation of motor vehicles by U.S. personnel and their families, and the status of U.S. armed forces contractors.

One notable provision of the agreement is the exemption of U.S. soldiers from taxes and customs duties in the Czech Republic. Additionally, it includes a list of designated military installations and premises of the Czech army that will be made available for use by the U.S. military.

The ANO movement, with coalition support, managed to pass an accompanying resolution in the lower house that underscored the agreement's significance in fostering practical defense cooperation with the United States and enhancing security for the Czech Republic. The agreement does not grant the U.S. armed forces the right to establish permanent military bases in the country or deploy nuclear weapons without prior consent from Czech authorities.

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