The Czech Republic on Tuesday finalized the ratification of a defense cooperation agreement with the United States.
This was reported by IDNES.
The administration of Czech President Petr Pavel said that he had signed the document after ratification in parliament earlier.
Both chambers approved the agreement by a significant majority: 66 votes out of 72 in the Senate and 115 out of 144 in the House of Representatives. The debate in the legislature was accompanied by protests against the presence of U.S. troops in the Czech Republic.
Defense Minister Jana Černohová emphasized that the agreement is an additional security guarantee for the Czech Republic and is especially important in the context of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The main critic of the agreement was the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, which insists that the agreement is the first step toward the deployment of an American contingent in the Czech Republic and that it is primarily beneficial to the United States.
Tomio Okamura, the leader of the political party, unsuccessfully demanded that a national referendum or an additional protocol be approved to ensure that there will be no American military bases in the Czech Republic.
The government and the opposition ANO responded by arguing that the agreement does not provide for this and that a potential decision on the long-term presence of U.S. forces in the Czech Republic would always require separate parliamentary approval. They also rejected manipulative comparisons of the agreement to the "temporary" deployment of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia after the 1968 invasion.
Author - Olena Madiak, 01/08/2023