'Russia can do whatever it wants': Czech leaders condemn Trump statements

Over the weekend, Trump surprisingly said that the US would not defend attacked NATO countries if they did not contribute enough to the alliance's budget.


Written by ČTK Published on 12.02.2024 10:01:00 (updated on 12.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

U.S. ex-President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments about defending NATO countries at a political rally over the weekend have sparked intense reactions from Czech politicians nationwide.

Referencing Russia’s current aggression, Trump said that he would not defend NATO countries that did not contribute “enough” to the military alliance’s budget, even if Russia attacked them. He even went so far as to say: “I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay.”

Rallying together

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský responded to Trump’s words by stating that NATO is currently in its “strongest position ever,” thanks to the solid transatlantic bond and the fulfillment of deterrence and defense tasks by European allies. 

Lipavský also believes that the commitments outlined in the Washington Treaty are strong enough that all NATO members would come to each other’s aid in the event of an attack. Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Válek called Trump’s statement scandalous and emphasized the need for Europe to strengthen its defense and stand together.

'Just rhetoric,' some politicians say

On the other hand, Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová sees Trump’s statement as part of pre-election rhetoric but reflects the opinion of many Americans who do not want to continue subsidizing Europe’s defense.

Senior opposition leader and ex-Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who has enjoyed a warm relationship with Trump, dismissed the former U.S. president’s words as mere campaign statements. Babiš, having met the American five times in private, said that Trump is a different person on stage than in private. Babiš previously made a similar statement during his presidential campaign in the Czech Republic, saying that he “would not protect” Poland if it were invaded.

Czech member of parliament (MEP) Tomáš Zdechovský took Trump’s words seriously, as – according to Zdechovský – Trump has been repeating them for eight years. The MEP also praised the Czech government for reaching 2 percent of GDP for defense spending.

MEP Karla Maříková of the populist-right-wing opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) believes that Trump’s comments were not threatening and he is not a warmonger. MEP Kateřina Konečná of the Communist Party (KSČM) said that Trump’s comments remind the West that NATO is not a guarantee of security. 

Trump’s statements drew criticism worldwide, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg saying that the former president’s words “undermine all of our [NATO’s] security,” international news agency Reuters reports.

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