It caused a political storm in Czech republic that the country’s presidential candidate and former prime minister Andrei Babis questioned the duty of collective defense as defined in Article 5 of the convention North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
During a televised debate broadcast last Sunday, the billionaire was asked whether he would send members of the Czech armed forces to fight in Poland or the Baltic states if either of those countries were attacked.
“No, of course not. I want peace, I don’t want war. And under no circumstances would I send our children (…) to war,” replied Mr Babis.
Czechia: Czech presidential candidate Andrej Babiš stressed that he would not comply with NATO Article 5 and that he would not send the Czech army to help if Poland was attacked….23-01-2023 pic.twitter.com/ahTNrKoSui
— Rowan Van Dijk (@Lastkombo) January 24, 2023
The former prime minister is facing retired general Petr Pavel in the second round presidential electionstaking place over the weekend in the Czech Republic.
A recent poll by the Ipsos Institute wants General E.A. to have a wide lead (58.8%-41.2%) over the tycoon.
Petr Pavel — the former chief of the general staff of the Czech national defense — reacted strongly to the debate, insisting that Article 5 must be respected. “If you are a member country of such an organization (such as NATO), you are not only because you enjoy the benefits of collective defense, but to contribute to it,” he countered.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Baros went so far as to denounce on Twitter on Monday that Mr. Babis poses an “immediate danger” to Czech national security: “He would also betray us and our allies,” the Pirate Party politician claimed. .
For his part, Prime Minister Petr Fiala appealed for moderation in the pre-election debate and demanded that national interests not be called into question.
Mr Babis was forced amid the uproar to revise his position, saying on Twitter that he would have preferred not to have been asked to answer the hypothetical question about attacking Poland or the Baltic states. “However, if such an attack really took place, I would of course comply with Article 5,” he added.
Zásadné odmítám snahu překrucovat moje výroky, which fell during včerejší debaty. Nikdy jsem article 5, tedy collective defense NATO, nezpochybnil. I didn’t want to imagine that World War 3 would happen. Proto politici musezí usilovat o mír a próbret war.
— Andrej Babiš (@AndrejBabis) January 23, 2023
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