Czech Ambassador Jaromir Novotny

Views on Afghanistan

Ambassador Jaromír Novotný
Czech Ambassador to Japan

OPENING REMARKS

This is our third workshop panel about Afghanistan, which shows how important this subject is. And this is my 15th workshop—I started in 1995 in Dresden when the Czech Republic was in the process of negotiating with NATO to become a member. This year, the workshop has been extremely interesting for me because there was a panel on Israel and Palestine, an area of the world that has been a source of trouble for the last 60 years. Now we have Afghanistan, which has been a source of trouble starting in 1979, when a Communist coup d’état changed the regime and the Soviet Union intervened in there. From that time on, Afghanistan has not witnessed any peace.

NATO AND EU PROBLEMS IN AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan is important for NATO and for the EU because we find ourselves in 2010 with more than 100,000 soldiers on Afghan territory. This is the same number that the Soviet Union had at the peak of the invasion, and the Soviet Union lost. This is also a problematic time for relations between the Allies. Of the 100,000 soldiers who are from 46 countries and 28 member-states, 26 of the 28 member-states are European, and Europeans are delivering 30,000 soldiers, with one-third of them provided by the U.K. So you can see how willing the United States’ and Canada’s European partners are to be involved in this war.
In addition, all the problems of the relations between NATO and the EU are very visible on the Afghan fields. This is not theory, this is practice. We still hear about the lack of helicopters—I think I first heard about it in 2003—and nothing has changed. We still hear about the problems with the units, too, and now the Dutch units are going out. Who will replace them? Only 6 countries out of 28 give 2% of their GDP to the military budget. And if we fail in Afghanistan, it will be fatal for the future of NATO. I think we are at this crossing point.

I have tried to be a little provocative, and now I will give the floor to the panel representatives.


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