Credit: Freepik

Czech Politicians Respond To Donald Trump’s Comments On NATO

Last updated:

Several Czech politicians have responded to comments made over the weekend by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said that under his presidency, the United States would not come to the aid of NATO countries attacked by Russia if they did not spend enough money on their own defence.

Trump further implied he would “encourage” Russia to attack countries whose defence spending did not meet the agreed 2% of total spending.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) told CTK yesterday that NATO is currently in its strongest ever position, thanks to the strong transatlantic bond and the fact that European allies are fulfilling their obligations in deterrence and defence.

Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS) wrote on Twitter (styled as ‘X’) that she saw the statement as pre-election rhetoric, but said it reflects the opinion of a significant proportion of people in the United States who do not want the country to continue primarily subsidising the defence of Europe.

Opposition leader and ex-PM Andrej Babis (ANO) agreed that Trump’s words were just a campaign statement and said he did not take them seriously, he told CNN Prima News yesterday. He added that Trump is a completely different person on the stage in front of voters and in private.

Babis made a similar statement to Trump during the latest presidential election campaign in the Czech Republic.

In Conway, South Carolina, Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, recalled a meeting with the president of a large European country who reportedly asked him: “Well, if we don’t pay and were attacked by Russia, will you protect us?” To this, Trump said he replied: “No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” he said, reiterating his view that countries must pay their “defence bills”.

Cernochova said the push for sufficient defence spending was longstanding, and Trump had also called for it while president. Unfortunately, some European countries were only awakened from their illusion of peace and security by the war in Ukraine, she noted.

“I believe that the commitments ensuing from the Washington Treaty are such a strong bond that all NATO members would come to aid each other in the event of an attack. We would certainly do so,” she stressed.

Lipavsky said he would not and could not comment on every statement from the U.S. campaign.

“NATO is currently in the strongest position it has ever been, both because of the strong transatlantic bond and because of the domestic tasks that European allies are fulfilling in the area of ​​deterrence and defence,” he told CTK.

NATO is facing its biggest threat since the end of World War II, and its members are increasing defence budgets and securing new capabilities, often buying from the U.S., said Lipavsky, who is following the presidential campaign in the U.S., where he is currently on vacation with his family.

Lipavsky added that he therefore hoped that Trump would not hear about Babis’s statements regarding the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets or the comments made by ANO deputy group head Alena Schillerova, who opposed spending on armaments by saying “we are not at war, we want to live in peace”.

Babis has repeatedly criticised the purchase of the US aircraft worth CZK 150 billion, saying that he would withdraw from the contract if the supplies were delayed.

Babis said on CNN’s Prima News yesterday that he read the comments as a campaign statement. “I don’t believe it. I’ve met him (Trump) five times. He is very pleasant in private, but when he goes to the stage, he turns into a beast and he is a different person,” Babis stated.

“I don’t believe he is serious,” Babis added. Trump, he said, overreacted, but if he were to become president again, he could not afford a similar move.

Babis drew attention in the Czech Republic and abroad a year ago during his presidential campaign with similar comments. In a pre-election debate at the time, he said he would not send Czech troops to help an ally in the event of an attack on Poland or the Baltic states if he were elected Czech president. He later backpedalled, saying that he had never questioned NATO’s collective defence.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) called Trump’s statement “scandalous” on Twitter. “This is another reason why Europe must strengthen its defence and stand together,” he said.

MEP Alexandr Vondra (ODS) wrote that the U.S. would not be paying for Europe’s defence indefinitely. “We need to join forces and make defence one of our top priorities. I would really appreciate it if we agreed on this with the opposition,” he noted.

MEP Tomas Zdechovsky (KDU-CSL), on the other hand, said that he took Trump’s words very seriously, because Trump had been repeating them for eight years. Like Jan Lacina, deputy head of the Mayors and Independents (STAN) MPs’ group, Zdechovsky said he appreciated that the current government was reaching the required 2% of GDP for defence.

“Europe must also think about its own security, it must take care of itself. The United States does not have to get us out of a tight corner, as we experienced in the First and Second World Wars,” he noted.

MEP Katerina Konecna (Communists) said she had never considered NATO to be a guarantee of security.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail