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Notes for the Riga NATO summit

English Pages, 29. 11. 2006

1. I would like to thank President Vike-Freiberga and all her collaborators for the excellent preparation and organization of this summit.

As someone who remembers the truly historic NATO summit in Prague four years ago, I feel the same historic symbolism here today. The Czech Republic considers the NATO membership of seven new countries and especially of the Baltic countries, which were the first ex-Soviet Union states to join the North Atlantic Alliance in the year 2004, as a final end of the post-Second World War division of Europe. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe feel this very strongly.

2. As one of the newer members of NATO, the Czech Republic is in favour of an open doors policy of NATO. We are prepared to support all here mentioned initiatives as regards new memberships and partnerships. We know that we should not overstretch ourselves, and that we should not be bigger than we can afford. But we should go ahead and look for new potential members and partners. Flexibility in this respect is important.

3. Western Balkan is currently in a relatively peaceful stage. The Membership Action Plan countries (MAP) – Albania, Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – should get a signal that we count with them. The remaining three countries – Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro – should see their future in the Partnership for Peace.

4. Yesterday we discussed Afghanistan, in detail. So a few words about Kosovo. The Czech Republic has its biggest military contingent abroad in Kosovo and, again, we are ready to enhance the number of our soldiers there. It is the priority of the Czech foreign and security policy. We support the UN-led talks on the status of Kosovo but, based on our historic experience, we stress the need to find a solution which would be accepted by the people there and not only by the group of well-minded international experts and advisers who don’t have a real stake there. The Alliance should be engaged in Kosovo as long as it will be needed – I am afraid it will be a long mission.

5. We are in favour of the building of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and we consider it important that it reaches full operational capacity as soon as possible. I would like to stress that the NRF concept has been taken seriously in my country. We have offered 400 troops for the 8th rotation of NRF and intend to provide significant contribution as regards the long-term force generation plan.

Václav Klaus, Riga, Latvia, November 28-29, 2006


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