Cooperation with Czech industry is important, the main priority is to defend our country. MP Jelínek discusses how to respond to coronavirus

Cooperation with Czech industry is important, the main priority is to defend our country. MP Jelínek discusses how to respond to coronavirus
27 / 04 / 2020, 10:00

In this interview MP Pavel Jelínek (SPD), member of the Lower House Defence Committee, discussed whether Czech society was prepared for the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. The conversation also covered other related topics, such as dependence on other countries in key segments, which we saw, for example, with the insufficient number of masks that had to be imported from China. We also asked to what extent the coronavirus could affect strategic military contracts.

  • Czech Republic has been developing relatively smoothly for several years. This was now quite drastically interrupted with the onset of a coronavirus pandemic. Do you think that society and the state were prepared for such a thing to happen?

In my opinion, the state has crisis scenarios and experts to fulfill them. Unfortunately, in terms of creating sufficient reserves in the state's economy, there was no readiness. At a time when the economy was booming, populist steps were being addressed and there was no room left to create a reserve. As far as society is concerned, unfortunately it is not prepared for crisis situations. Gradually, with the rising standard of living, the need for preparation for crisis situations disappeared, both by displacing the teaching of military education, abolishing civil defence, abolishing preparation for the country's defence, etc.

See also: The Army should definitely not fall victim to this crisis – Jana Černochová, Chairwoman of the Defence Committee, says

  • The topic of the lack of masks and respirators opened a debate on the issue of the Czech Republic's dependence on third countries and the need for self-sufficiency in key segments. What lessons can we learn from this for the future?

Preparing for crises requires not only planning but also resources. It is important for the society to be aware of this fact and to be willing to compromise on its comfort so that the necessary stocks of strategic resources can be created. These, in addition to medical devices, certainly include the equipment of the entire rescue system, Police and also the Army.

  • Let's move on to defence. Do you think we are ready for a security crisis? Should, for example, cooperation with the Czech security industry be deepened to ensure strategic knowledge, capabilities and capacities for the Czech Army in the event of a crisis?

As I mentioned, crisis preparedness is underestimated. These include the security situation, even in the field of defence in a comprehensive sense, including cyberspace. In the current critical situation, it has become clear that cooperation in Europe is not working as it was expected in Brussels. It is clearly important to be self-sufficient in strategic areas. Cooperation with the Czech security industry is certainly important. In general, cooperation with our industry is important for crisis situations. For example, we have a highly developed nanotechnology industry. It supplies excellent products that we use on missions, however, the main priority is to protect and defend our country.

  • The spending on military contracts is also becoming a topic. In your opinion, will it be necessary to confront the original plans with the new economic reality? For example, how do you view the possibility of reducing the number of purchased IFVs, which would reduce the price of this largest military tender in our history?

See also: End of the IFV tender? PM Babiš ordered minister of defence Metnar to stop the purchase

I am convinced that measures will be needed in all areas as part of the recovery of our economy. However, there is certainly a way to create more space for the domestic defence industry and other sectors, thereby reducing costs while maintaining armaments. I will give an example from another industry. In the construction industry, tenders are won by large companies, which in the final phase leave 100% to subcontractors. These companies usually do not have many of their own employees who would carry out the construction. You will now be at an advantage again. At the time when they should pay quarantined employees, they do not have to, because they do not have them. However, subcontractors, which are already our domestic companies without foreign mothers, do have these employees and will bear all the costs of this crisis situation. Isn't it time to change the Public Procurement Act to the preference of those who actually implement it?

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