Marek Ženíšek: The defence treaty with the US does not mean that an American base will be built here. Unfortunately

Marek Ženíšek (TOP 09), MP and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, in an interview for the daily FORUM 24, refuses and explains the greatest nonsense that is being spread in connection with the ratification of the Czech-American Defence Treaty (DCA). In his words, no one is losing sovereignty, which is proven by the fact that a number of other countries, including Hungary, which Tomio Okamura considers to be our model, have concluded a similar document.

28. 6. 2023

What do you think is the most important thing about the conclusion of the Czech-US defence agreement?

The fact that we are finally getting out of the situation where we are the only country in the Central European area that does not have this treaty. Moreover, it can be followed by other forms of cooperation with our biggest ally, the United States of America.

What do you say to the arguments from the SPD that this is a loss of sovereignty?

Some of the things that those who are bothered by this treaty are saying are easy to explain, which is what the first reading in the House of Commons is for. However, I believe that some MPs do not want to hear the arguments, have not read the treaty and are bothered by our membership of NATO and deepening cooperation with the US. Talk of a loss of sovereignty is absolute nonsense. It would mean that the Baltic States, where our troops are permanently stationed, have lost their sovereignty. Similarly, according to Tomio Okamura's logic, probably all twenty-four countries that have this treaty have lost their sovereignty, including his favourite Hungary, which also has it.

How can one practically imagine what the ratification of this treaty means?

The treaty creates a legal framework to clarify certain areas in the case of US troops operating in the Czech Republic, both legally and technically. Joint exercises have been underway for a long time. Based on the experience of other countries that have this treaty, I can imagine that these exercises could take place more frequently, for example. The Czech Republic, for example, may want US military instructors to work in our country in the event of the purchase of US military equipment. Our geographical location is in the middle of Europe and many logistical transfers do and will pass through our territory. The treaty facilitates all this in practice. The cooperation within NATO is not just formal; until now, everything has been working according to a multilateral treaty that has been in place for twenty-three years, and this new treaty merely supplements and refines it. Even Sweden, which is not yet a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, is considering this treaty.

We must be sure that, if necessary, our cooperation will work as it should. It is literally a blessing from God for all those who have the security of the Czech Republic at heart. The SPD claims that this treaty means the establishment of military bases for US forces in our country. I would be happy if that were the case, I would be more at ease if there were bases for US troops in our country, but this treaty does not guarantee that. There are a number of very different practical matters to be dealt with here.

The Opposition have also talked about the problem that the treaty is not reciprocal and that it does not apply to the territory of the United States. What do you say to that?

This is logical, because security in post-World War II Europe is based on the presence of American forces here, not the other way around.

Were you surprised by the position of the ANO movement, which, despite its initial hesitation, will vote for the treaty?

Anyone who reads the treaty will understand that making it a 'second radar' is nonsense. The fact that the SPD has assessed it in such a way that it is convenient for it to lie to voters and say what is not in the treaty is understandable. The SPD does not agree with our membership of NATO, which I hope is not the case in the ANO movement.

Do you think that if the treaty is approved by a large majority, this is also a message to our partners?

It certainly is. Although the treaty is concluded for ten years, it does not mean that it will automatically end, but that one of the parties can terminate it. I therefore think it is terribly important that there is agreement on it with at least part of the opposition, because it shows that we agree on the basic pillars and that there will be no discontinuity in the future. Moreover, it means a defeat for the SPD as representatives of a marginal part of society.

It is clear from Defence Minister Jana Černochová's statement that the activities of the fifth column have created a great deal of pressure on members of the government in connection with this treaty. Have you also noticed this?

I'm sure. It's to be expected. This is illustrated by the thousand-fold activity on social media, which has been going on for about a fortnight now. It's the same old stuff - either very rude language or nonsense that the SPD continues to spread. It is understandable, we are the last country in this area that does not have the treaty, and so it is probably worth making an effort for some to keep it that way.

On that note, I would ask whether you think the government is doing enough to combat the bossing of disinformation. Are its steps in this regard sufficient?

My personal view is that, even taking into account the past years when nothing was done, we still have huge reserves. I lack strategic steps that would be able to address this situation in some way in the future. I admit that I think there is a large margin here.

Source: FORUM24.CZ, 28.6.2023