Czechs rule out military role in Libya

Prime Minister Petr Nečas and his defense and foreign ministers say the Czech military lacks the capacity to intervene in Libya. But plans are afoot to help Egypt and Tunisia.

Foreign Affairs
Tom Jones | 18.03.2011

Following the UN Security Council resolution passed on Thursday night sanctioning the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) and defense and foreign ministers have ruled out Czech military involvement. The country could, however, help in other ways.

“As far as I remember, we don’t have any ships in the Mediterranean, nor do we have the airpower to reach there [directly from the Czech Republic],” Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09, ODS) told the news server Tyden.cz on Thursday morning. “Countries that have planes there — Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain — have enough planes and don’t need us.”   ‘If there is definite interest from civil society, of course we’re available.’

Nevertheless, Schwarzenberg said that the Czech Republic could play a role in the reconstruction of Libya and development of civil society if some form of pro-democratic leadership emerges. “If there is definite interest from civil society, of course we’re available. But one should never impose oneself, but wait until there’s a request,” he said, adding that the Czech Republic is preparing to help Egypt and Tunisia, without elaborating on the form of the planned assistance.     

This position was confirmed by Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra (ODS). “The Czech Republic will not take part because it doesn’t have the technical means, but if necessary we will be willing to help in the humanitarian sphere,” he told reporters on Thursday morning. “The UN resolution is a logical move to prevent a massacre of the inhabitants of the town of Benghazi.”

Nečas stressed the importance of active participation by Arab nations in any military intervention. “We welcome the fact that the UN Security Council is counting on the active role of the states of the Arab League in implementing the approved resolution, because the support of regional powers will be key for finding a stable solution to the advantage of the people of Libya,” he said in a press release. 

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