December 4, 2012

The Experience of Czech Republic’s Euro-Integration

On the disintegration of the soviet block, the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Czech is determined as the main priory of the country’s national development. This process began when Czech applied for a membership in the European Union in January, 1996. After the country had achieved the EU membership criteria, it officially became a member of the organization in May of 2004. Since then Czech, as an EU member country, has been actively involved in realization of the EU’ s main programs, first of all, of the Common foreign and security policy (CFSP)  and also of the “Eastern Partnership”.

Within the framework of the CFSP, Czech, together with other EU member-countries is participating in international peacekeeping operations, formation of European battalion tactic groups and maintaining the operative capabilities (Czech-Slovak and Polish-Hungarian-Slovak ones in the framework of “Vyshegrad Group”).

As far as the realization of the “Eastern Partnership" is concerned, Czech is consistent in supporting the process of the European integration of Ukraine. It was among the mediators during the settling of Russian - Ukrainian problems, caused by so called gas wars of Russia against Ukraine. Czech actively assists in the economic and institutional development of the European Union. Thus, the main directions of Czech’s heading in the EU in the first half of year 2009, were furthering the development of the EU markets, improvement of the conditions for business activity, settling the unemployment problems, realization of the common agricultural policy and increasing the energy security of Europe.

An important achievement of the Czech’s being in the EU, is the creation of  preconditions for the country’s economic development, which was quite dynamic before the beginning of the crisis processes in Europe, caused by the world finance-economic crisis. Despite its current problems, Czech has all the chances to restore the positive processes in its economy. For example, the volumes of Czech's foreign trade with other EU countries have increased in the second half of 2012.

One of the important steps in the frames of the country’s integration to the EU, became Czech’s joining the Schengen zone (March of 2008). Czech citizen, traveling free in Europe, now can study and work in the EU countries.

Czech’s government considers Czech’s being a member of NATO, makes the basis of the country's national security. Thus, in 1990 former Czechoslovakia, after the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, was the first to make contacts with the North Atlantic union, during the NATO's General Secretary’s visit to Prague.

Having fulfilled all the necessary procedures, on the 12th of March of 1999 Czech Republic became a proper member of NATO and took up all the obligations of the North Atlantic union. The truth is, that unlike Poland, Baltic countries and Romania, the main goal of this joining NATO was not so much securing the defense from Russia, as the opportunity to use the alliance’ s potential for the optimization of Czech’s defense.

Thus, while integrating into NATO, the armed forces of Czech were reduced from 132 thousand people in 1993 to 35 thousand people in 2010.  A large number of obsolete equipment was written off, and since the 1st of January 2005 Czech army has completely transferred to recruiting on the contract principle.

The reduction of the armed forces of Czech saved respectable sums of money and simultaneously was compensated by becoming a part of the unified NATO’s  collective security system and ( and this is very important!) by getting new modern models of armaments and military equipment.

The Saab JAS-39 Gripen multirole fighter

The Saab JAS-39 Gripen multirole fighterWithin this process Czech army was integrated into the United Armed Forces of the North Atlantic union. The Czech system of aircraft control integrated into the NATO’s united anti-aircraft defense system in Europe. On easy offset (compensative) conditions, the Czech army got 14 modern Swedish JAS-39 “Gripen“ planes (at the cost of the contract being 750 million US dollars, the Czech side got 975 million US dollars as offset compensations from Saab company), as well as more than 100 Austrian “Pandur” II armored personnel carriers (Czech paid 650 million US dollars to Steyr-Dimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeuge company, and got 150 % offset compensations.

The Pandur 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicle

The Pandur 8x8 wheeled armoured vehicleCzech experts state that, despite the reduction of the armed forces, the mentioned above measures taken in the frames of the country’s membership in NATO, have significantly increased the military potential of Czech Republic. This enabled the fulfillment of the country’s obligations before NATO in strengthening of the European security, and concerning Czech’ s  participation in international military operations, in Iraq and Afghanistan included.

Within the framework of the "NATO's Intelligent Defense" conception, Czech Republic is specializing in carrying out the functions of radiation, chemical and bacteriological defense of the NATO’s military forces. This task was set before the  Czech  AF ‘s  31st RCBP  brigade, which is in the operative reserve of the  NATO's Rapid Deployment Forces.

In the Alliance Czech is also specializing in producing radio-electronic, armored and aircraft equipment, which positively influences the Czech’s defense-industrial complex. Thus, in 2000 the Czech government adopted the "Principles of co-operation of the state government and defense industry of Czech Republic” conception and the agreement “About cooperation of the CzR’s  Ministry of Defense and defense  industry of Czech Republic”, as well as the agreement “About the cooperation between the Czr Ministry of Defense and the Association of the defense industries”, which have optimized the work of the Czech DIC in the new geopolitical situation in which the country is now.

The Vera passive sensor

The Vera passive sensorRelying on its industrial basis which is not worse than those of other European countries, Czech company ERA Pardubice produces modern stations of radio-electronic intelligence "Vera" (it is the further development of the well known “Ramona”). Besides, together with the USA scientific-technological research is being made for the US MDC in Europe.


The Alenia C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft  

ТThe Alenia C-27J Spartan military transport aircraft Czech company Aero Vodohody together with the Italian company Alenia Aeronavtika is taking part in assembling an average military-transporting C-27 J Spartan aircraft. More than a dozen of Czech businesses are involved in the production of the mentioned above Austrian Pandur II APC for the CzR’s armed forces. Czech also is taking part in the scientific research program (aiming at creation of the personal equipment for infantry 's fighting in urban areas)  under the aegis of the European defense agency.

It is significant that Czech’s membership in NATO does not keep it from carrying out its own programs concerning the former soviet military equipment, which it "inherited”. For example, in 2007 the Czech government passed over to Afghanistan 6 transport helicopters MI-17 and 6 striking helicopters MI-35, which had been modernized for fighting in the mountainous conditions. And  in Afghanistan itself there was acting a special subunit of Czech Air Forces,  operating that helicopter equipment and training afghan pilots.

Positive results of Czech’s membership in NATO have determined the high level of the support of the Euro-integration process by the Czech population. While in 1999 not more than 30 % of the population were for Czech’s joining the EU and NATO, now more than 80 % support this joining.

In general, Czech’s joining the EU and NATO was a consistent and well-considered step, which spiritually and practically turned the country towards Europe, having guaranteed its progress in the security sphere, as well as new opportunities in the economic and social-political development. More so, the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the country ensures its peaceful and secure development for many years to come.