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Czech politicians reject Trump's demand on increase of defence spending

Staff Writer |
Czech politicians on Wednesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's demand on NATO member states to increase their defence spending to four percent of gross domestic product.

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Trump told the NATO leaders on Wednesday at the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, that they should increase their defense spending to 4 percent of their countries' economic output, which is higher than the previously pledged 2 percent.

Trump also tweeted that the NATO members should meet their commitment of 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense spending immediately, not by 2024.

In 2014, NATO members agreed to move toward spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense by 2024.

In reaction to Trump's demand, Czech Foreign Minister and Deputy PM Jan Hamacek said he considered 2 percent of GDP as an optimal level of defence spending, adding Czech is ready to gradually raise defence spending first to 1.4 percent and then up to 2 percent of GDP in line with the NATO recommendation. Czech at present has more than one percent of GDP in defense already.

Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar said he considered Trump's statement as long-term appeal. The Czech target is to reach 2 percent of GDP by 2024. Metnar said the increase in defence budget must be planned and it must be upped gradually not by fits and starts. The current goal of Czech Republic is to meet the Alliance commitment of 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

Members of Czech Chamber of Deputies Defence committee opposed Trump's demand as well. Defence committee head Jana Cernochova said that even if she agreed with the U.S. demand on spending 2 percent of GDP on defence and proposed a legal change in this respect, the 4-percent demand is beyond reality.

Czech Defence committee member Jan Bartosek said the defence spending of 4 percent of GDP is currently unrealistic for the Czech Republic, because it is hardly for the country to achieve 2 percent. Jan Rehounek, another committee member, called Trump's statement "a scream in the dark."

Meanwhile, more than 100 people protested against NATO and the membership of Czech Republic in this alliance on Wednesday on Wenceslas Square in Prague city center.

The protest was held by the Czech Peace Movement with support of the No Basis group in connection with the start of the NATO summit in Brussels.

The petitioners have signed a petition calling for the suspension of all military activities in the Czech Republic. One of the organizer, Eva Novotna, said that the war takes place first in the economy, in the media and in the heads of those who benefit from it.

The demonstration was also supported by the first deputy chairman of Czech Communist Party (KSCM), Petr Simunek. "We do not need the North Atlantic Alliance," Simunek was quoted as saying. He recalled the role of the Czech Republic during the bombing of Belgrade by the NATO aircraft in 1993.

Speakers in their speech criticised NATO and, in particular, the United States for its allegedly aggressive policies and increasing tension in the world. They also protested against the current U.S. pressure exerted on the NATO members to raise their defence budgets.

The protesters also unfolded a banner on the pavement saying "The World without Wars Is Possible, the World without Wars Is Necessary."

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