Speech of the Speaker Radek Vondráček to the 20th Anniversary of the Accession to NATO13. 3. 2019
The speech given by the president of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Radek Vondráček regarding the 20th anniversary of the membership of the Czech Republic in NATO.
Dear Mrs. NATO Deputy Secretary General,
Ministers, Co-members of the Chamber of Deputies, dear Senators,
The NATO membership is the highlight of a long journey, which is inseparable from the construction of our statehood. In March 1998, a year before our accession to NATO, the NATO Secretary General appeared on a plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies. During his speech, he stated that signing a treaty and integrating armies and administration are not everything. It rather means participating in the historically seen largest project that unites security, stability and trust in Europe and North America.
It was the first time in our history that our country has become a member of a security alliance of free and democratic countries. This happened through our own decision. We have ceased to be under ambition of others. This is how the allied experience of our soldiers on the fronts of both world wars and in the resistance took place. Our ancestors were able to join forces and sacrifice lives to make the world free again for others and us. In the Cold War, we have never internally reconciled to the division of Europe, let alone accept the bitter fact that we had to be members of the Warsaw Pact military bloc. The Grouping, which, among other things, was characterized by military attacking its own member states, propagandistically questioning everything from the west and developing attack plans. The enlargement of NATO has definitely overcome the division of Europe and at this point, it should be thanked everyone who is responsible for this: Politicians of our three countries, which are all in NATO, soldiers, experts and citizens.
I would like to thank all those who pushed through NATO´s open doors policy. It was and is right, it is not and has never been confrontational because it was the sovereign and democratic choice of each country. Right now, we are preparing a treaty with North Macedonia in the Chamber of Deputies to be ratified by the President.
The NATO Membership and alliance is a commitment to us. We realize it in the Chamber of Deputies in negotiations on the state budget, in defense spending and in approving mandates to our military missions. Most recently, we approved them with a broad majority. We are also discussing how to improve our legislative framework regarding our security. In discussions with our NATO partners, I convinced myself that it is not the actual level of spending, in terms of GDP, that is crucial, but rather that the spending represents a well thought-out investment. We have the second to third highest level of defense resources in Central and Eastern Europe and tradition and ambitions in defense industry. Therefore, in the concept of spending, it is important to develop the intellectual, scientific and developmental potential of our industries as well as its ability to cooperate with NATO partners.
Do not let us forget that the principle of NATO membership is authentic solidarity. In 1989, we have become partners and ten years later full allies. Our army and politics share and develop this alliance today and daily. Security and threat are always subject to a subjective and therefore sometimes different perception in each member country, which we should respect.
When our Polish friends point out the lack of NATO infrastructure in their part of Europe, let us be solidary and support them with our activities in NATO and other formats, such as Bucharest 9 and foreign policy.
The NATO treaty is a clear document in this sense. As the treaty was signed 70 years ago, US President Harry Trumann stated that if it existed in 1914 and in 1939 and if it was supported by the countries represented today, it would have prevented the aggression that led to the two world wars.
Thank you all for your attention.
Prague Castle, March 12, 2019