We need to think about critical infrastructure, member of the Defence Committee says. No more overpriced military contracts

We need to think about critical infrastructure, member of the Defence Committee says. No more overpriced military contracts
Author: Vladimír Bezděk, CKIT VeV-VA, army.cz|Caption: Recruits scanned for temperature
09 / 04 / 2020, 10:00

We interviewed Jan Bartošek (KDU-ČSL party), Member of the Defence Committee, on the current situation marked by the pandemic of coronavirus, which has a significant impact on the economy, the Army and other sectors. According to Bartošek, the coronavirus is a raised finger and society must therefore realize that safety is not self-evident.

  • Czech Republic has had relatively undisturbed development for several years. This has now been drastically discontinued with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Do you think society and the state were ready for something like this to happen?

Personally, I think you can't be fully prepared. As they say, we always prepare for the last war. Now we will take action, but in the future we may be surprised by something else, and we can say again how unprepared we are. In a crisis situation, besides the scenarios it is important to react quickly and to improvise appropriately. Crisis plans will never lead us perfectly through the problem, so it is important to have the right people in the right places and listen to them at that fateful moment.

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Here I would like to highlight our society's rapid response to the lack of masks. In a short time the society mobilized and managed to help each other. I would therefore say that society has stood up at this time and has shown strength and solidarity.

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

Since testing a system's resilience to a crisis of this magnitude is very costly, even unrealizable, we now have a unique opportunity to learn from mistakes that normally cannot be noticed. Once the wave of coronavirus has passed, we will only be able to identify ourselves as a winner if we have carefully analyzed everything that has been done to stop the spread of the virus. We will have to think about our critical infrastructure and how we protect it. The current situation will in certain cases open our eyes and change the view of the need to control some commodities, production processes and communication channels, ie not to put them in the hands of another state.

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  • Let us now move to the area of ​​defence. Do you think we are ready for a security-type crisis? For example, should cooperation with the Czech security industry be strengthened to ensure strategic knowledge, capabilities and capabilities for the Czech Army in the event of a crisis?

We are ready to see how some "security-type" crisis will show. Some mechanisms are lengthy, and sometimes there is no will to move some unresolved issues, or the topic is politicized and stuck. However, the current situation may set things in motion and give safety topics more priority. As mentioned in the introduction, the Czech Republic has had a relatively calm development over several years, and in such a time, our perception of security has fallen into value. Coronavirus is a raised finger and we have to realize that security is not self-evident. We must build our safety. We have a lot of work to do, but we believe that we will make the most of our own capacity and security industry.

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  • What about our spending on military orders? Do you think it will be necessary to confront the original plans with the new economic reality? How do you see, for example, the possibility of reducing the number of purchased IFVs, which would reduce the price of this largest army tender in history?

This is certainly a topic and I have personally noticed in the past that compliance with our defence budget will be a big problem. However, this is not just a question for our Government, but for the whole of the EU and NATO. I realize that funds are not unlimited, but seeking savings in the defence budget will not be a happy decision in the future. Czech Army has already experienced this in the past and is still catching up. Here again, we must realize that security is not self-evident and that no one else in the Euro-Atlantic area will guarantee it other than members of the Alliance. At present, effective management of public funds is in place and certainly the Czech Republic has capable economists who can help us to remain a strong economy within the EU and that it will not be necessary to chop off the capability of the Czech army. I believe that the era of non-systemic discounts, subsidies, overpriced contracts and similar burdens on the state budget will pass and that every crown will be spent meaningfully.

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