Czech army to continue, Malian, Sinai missions in Afghanistan
The Czech military wants to continue with its missions in Afghanistan, Mali and Sinai in 2015 and 2016, and in 2016 it might offer to protect the airspace of an allied country, probable the Baltic states or Iceland, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told journalists today.
The ministry will complete the draft schedule of foreign missions in a few weeks and it will submit it to the Chamber of Deputies.
The ministry expects the Czech military to continue operating within the allied mission in Afghanistan, where the present number of troops, 300 at the most, will be deployed, Stropnicky said.
He said the extent of Czech participation will also depend on an agreement between Afghanistan and the USA.
U.S. President Barack Obama previously said he plans to leave 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014.
Similarly, Stropnicky wants the Czech military mission in Mali to be prolonged, with the same number of participating troops.
Up to 50 Czech soldiers can operate in Mali. There are 38 of them now.
On Wednesday, the Czech Chamber of Deputies approved the extension of the Malian mission until the end of the year.
Defence Ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek said Prague also plans to continue with its monitoring mission in Sinai.
Moreover, it is considering offering the Czech Gripen fighters for temporary protection of the airspace of a NATO ally in 2016.
In the past, Czech pilots monitored the skies over the Baltic countries and Iceland.
Czech soldiers have been deployed in Sinai since 2009 within the international observation mission (MFO) that checks the observance of the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. Fourteen Czech troops operate within the MFO now.
Stropnicky said he wants a definitive decision on further Czech participation in foreign missions to be made before the September summit of NATO