Press Advisories

25. 3. 2022 21:39

Prime Minister Fiala attended a NATO and European Council summit in Brussels

 Prime Minister Fiala attended a NATO and European Council summit in Brussels, 24 March 2022. Source: NATO.
Prime Minister Fiala attended a NATO and European Council summit in Brussels, 24 March 2022. Source: NATO.
On 24 and 25 March 2022, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala attended an extraordinary NATO summit and a European Council meeting in Brussels. The main topic of both meetings was the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The European Council, which was also attended by US President Joe Biden, continued to focus on sanctions against Russia, addressed dealing with the refugee wave, energy and strengthening defense cooperation.

Extraordinary NATO summit

An extraordinary North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit was held on Thursday, March 24, which focused on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and was attended by all leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

The summit showed great consensus and a complete unity of the North Atlantic Alliance in terms of the support for Ukraine and actions against the Russian aggression. The concrete outcome of the summit is that the Allies will continue to provide political and practical support to Ukraine in its brave struggle,” Prime Minister Fiala said after the meeting.

The summit also focused on strengthening NATO's eastern flank and the long-term goal of increasing defense spending. “We will be actively involved and are involved in strengthening the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Alliance. Perhaps if I were to underline one of the results of today's meeting, it is precisely the significant strengthening of the Alliance's military presence in the East. This will involve up to 40,000 troops in total, with four new battle groups in Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. The Czech Republic is already represented in the battle groups that are in Lithuania and Latvia, and the Czech Republic, it is also important to say, will command the battle group in Slovakia, where we will send about 650 soldiers,” the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic said.

The Allies further agreed to extend the mandate of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for another year until 30 September 2023.

Meeting of the European Council

On the first day of the meeting, the European Council also discussed the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, sanctions against Russia and the continued support for Ukraine. The leaders were joined by US President Joe Biden in person and by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenský via videoconference. “The unified position of the North Atlantic Alliance, the European Union and the United States was clearly demonstrated. The unity is emphasised at all levels and it is important because the unity of the Western world, the strong transatlantic cooperation between the European Union and the United States, is something that Vladimir Putin did not anticipate,” Petr Fiala said.

EU leaders also discussed sanctions against Russia and Belarus, which have already been adopted and have a significant impact on both countries. “The sanctions that are now imposed are working. They are extensive and they affect the Russian elites and the Russian economy. The longer they last, the more effective they will become. But we have agreed that the European Commission will prepare another package of sanctions. This is an important matter that will clarify and extend some of the sanctions already in place. However, it will also be aimed at identifying any loopholes that could be used to circumvent the sanctions, and we will try to close these loopholes in the best possible way,” Prime Minister Fiala explained.

During the first day, the European Council also discussed the political, financial, material and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including the support for the restoration of a democratic Ukraine after the end of the aggression. “It is also important for the Czech Republic that the intention to create a fund to finance the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine has been approved. This was one of the points we were advocating, a kind of Marshall Plan for Ukraine,” the Prime Minister added.

Other topics on the first day included dealing with the burden of the refugee wave. “Another thing that is important for the Czech Republic is the declaration or intention of the European Union to contribute financially to managing the burden associated with the refugee wave. Such assistance has also been offered by US President Biden,” Prime Minister Fiala stated.

On Friday, 25 March, the main topic of the meeting of the EU leaders was energy, namely the issue of energy security and persistently high energy prices. EU leaders have already discussed the gradual end of dependence on Russian natural gas, oil and coal imports at the informal meeting in Versailles on 10 and 11 March 2022. “The United States and Europe will also continue, and this is an important information, to ensure Europe's energy security. This means that we can count on cooperation and support from the United States in the common intention of European countries to free themselves from dependence on Russian energy resources, especially oil and gas, but also coal,” Petr Fiala said.

On the issue of the current high energy prices, the EU leaders agreed that state aid to reduce the impact of increasingly expensive energy must be temporary, must be justified and Member States should also work to reduce the impact on the most vulnerable citizens. “This is exactly the direction in which our Government is proceeding because it is clear to us that all the impacts and costs of are measures must ultimately be paid for by someone and it will be none other than the middle class” Prime Minister Fiala added.

We have also pushed for the national conditions to be taken into account when creating the energy mix, which means confirming the development of the nuclear power plant. We have also agreed that all Member States will have to pre-supply gas adequately before the coming winter. What is important, and this is a confirmation of that objective and a new clarification, is that we want to free ourselves from the dependence on Russian gas and oil. The Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, will draw up a concrete plan by the end of May on how to achieve this as best and as quickly as possible,” the Czech Prime Minister summarised the results of the meeting.

There was also a discussion on strengthening European defense and security cooperation. The European Council confirmed the Strategic Compass.


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