Czechia hosts largest NATO summit in over 20 years: Why does it matter?

The Czech prime minister, president, NATO head, US secretary of state and numerous other foreign leaders will convene to discuss global security. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 30.05.2024 10:56:00 (updated on 31.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia today and Friday will hold its largest NATO summit in over 20 years, with foreign ministers from the military alliance invited for an informal meeting on international security. The meeting is also significant as it marks the 25th anniversary of the Czech Republic's membership in NATO and the 75th anniversary of the alliance's founding.

What will the summit discuss?

The main focus, unsurprisingly, will be the Russia-Ukraine war. Ministers will also discuss the upcoming NATO summit in Washington, to be held in the first half of July.

According to David Konecký, the senior director of the security and multilateral section of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and future Czech ambassador to NATO, the meeting will “provide an opportunity for the ministers to discuss sensitive matters” and lay the groundwork for a successful summit in Washington.

Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipavský will discuss NATO security with several of his international counterparts – he told earlier this week that the summit will give NATO countries “a chance to collaborate together to boost support for Ukraine and strengthen the bloc’s security.” 

"The Czech Republic is a proud and committed member of NATO, and we are grateful for the alliance's support and partnership in upholding democracy, humanity, and human rights." 

President Petr Pavel

He also referenced Czechia’s initiative of collecting ammunition for Ukraine – a project involving several NATO states – and that the first pieces of artillery should arrive in the coming weeks.

Ministers will also talk about energy security and the fight against disinformation, as well as the instability in the Middle East.

Who is attending?

A series of bilateral meetings between senior Czech politicians and their foreign counterparts will take place on the sidelines of the event, including a meeting between Czech President Petr Pavel and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. 

The NATO head will receive the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk – Czechia’s highest state order – this week. "I am honored to receive the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and am proud to work with such dedicated and valuable partners in the Czech Republic,” said Stoltenberg earlier.

Most foreign ministers from NATO countries will attend the event, including British Foreign Affairs Minister (and former Prime Minister) David Cameron and French Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Séjourné.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Defense Minister Jana Černochová will also meet U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The American will sign a memorandum of cooperation in the fight against disinformation with Lipavský.

Why does it matter?

Czechia’s largest NATO meeting in over two decades comes at a time of highly fragile international security. 

Ukraine has consistently called on for more support – financially and in terms of materiel – from NATO countries; with no short-term sign of the war abating, NATO leaders will be aware of the importance of continuing aid.

Ever-rising tensions in Israel and Palestine are also a source of concern for the bloc; politicians will discuss ways to help end the conflict. Stoltenberg said late last year that “Israel does not stand alone” and warned Iran against further aggression. Some NATO countries, however, are uneasy about backing Israel – finding a compromise will be important.

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