Chair of the NATO Military Committee visits Czechia
On 21-23 November 2023, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer visited Czechia upon invitation of the Chief of General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Karel Řehka. While in Prague, the Chair met with Czechia’s President and Deputy Minister of Defence, as well as with other senior political and military authorities. He also delivered key remarks at the CEVRO Institute, addressing NATO’s response to a new era of Collective Defence.
Admiral Bauer’s visit started with a wreath laying ceremony at the Vitkov National Memorial – a symbol of Czechoslovak and Czech statehood, and the home of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After the ceremony, at the General Staff Building, the Chair met with Lieutenant General Řehka and with other senior General Staff officials. Their exchanges centred, inter alia, on the security situation in the region and the importance of national resilience to keep working together for our Euro-Atlantic security. Stressing that NATO will continue to ensure all its Allies remain safe from any threat, Admiral Bauer noted how “National resilience is an essential basis for credible collective deterrence and defence, and is therefore vital to NATO’s efforts to safeguard its people and its democratic values”.
The two high level military authorities then moved to Czechia’s Ministry of Defence for a working lunch with Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Daniel Blažkovec. Discussing Czechia’s contributions to NATO’s mission, operations and activities – including with a focus the Czech-led multinational battlegroup in Slovakia – Admiral Bauer praised the continued advancement in its defence capabilities, highlighting the importance this bears for the collective defence of the Alliance as a whole: “Czechia is a strong Ally within our Alliance and is working to further strengthen its own defence, while also providing security beyond its own borders,” he stated, adding that “this helps NATO ensure the protection and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area”, he stated. Relatedly, the Chair also praised Czechia for the remarkable support it has been providing to Ukraine.
This message was reiterated by the Chair in his remarks at the CEVRO Institute, in the afternoon, where he addressed NATO’s response to a new era of Collective Defence. “NATO is undergoing unprecedented change at an unprecedented pace. But our resolve remains unwavering”, said the Admiral. Outlining NATO’s most significant transformation since the Cold War, he conveyed to the students a strong message of resolve and unity: “Every day we build on the strong ties between Allies and harvest the centuries of military expertise that we possess. And as a defensive Alliance, NATO continues to send an unmistakable message to any potential aggressor: We are united. We are resolute. But above all, we are stronger together.”
During his visit to Prague, Admiral Bauer also had the honour to meet with President of the Czech Republic, H.E. Petr Pavel. He thanked the former Chair of the NATO Military Committee – and first one from an Eastern European country – for his personal relentless commitment to the Alliance, and praised Czechia for being a longstanding staunch NATO Ally: “Czechia has been walking side by side with its Allies since 1999 – and we keep charting the path ahead”.
In subsequent meetings with representatives of the Czech Parliament – including the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Committee of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Mr. Pavel Fischer and the Chairman of the Defence Committee of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, Mr. Lubomír Metnar – the Admiral extended his gratitude for Czech’s leadership endeavour to spending 2 percent of its GDP on defence next year.