President Pavel Arrives in Vilnius For NATO Summit
Vilnius/Prague, July 11 (CTK special correspondent) – Czech President Petr Pavel arrived in Vilnius last night to take part in the NATO summit scheduled for today and tomorrow.
The Czech Republic will be represented by President Pavel, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, Defense Minister Jana Cernochova and Chief of General Staff Karel Rehka at the summit.
On Tuesday, before the summit, Pavel will take part in the NATO Public Forum, where senior international politicians discuss summit topics and the latest affairs concerning NATO. Pavel, who was the chief of Czech armed forces in 2012-15 and NATO Military Committee Chairman in 2015-18, is the first Czech politician to be invited to this event.
NATO now has 31 members, since Finland joined in the spring. Sweden wants to join the alliance, and its membership has been approved by almost all member states. Turkish President Erdogan agreed yesterday to launch the approval process in the Turkish Parliament, and Hungary has also not yet approved the bid.
The NATO member states want to confirm their support for Ukraine at the summit and find a compromise concerning its possible future membership. Talks about further reinforcement of the eastern flank of the alliance and defence spending are also expected.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will join the summit. In the last few weeks, Zelenskiy has been in contact with several leaders of NATO countries. Last week, he talked with President Pavel and other Czech politicians in Prague. Zelenskiy would like the Vilnius summit to provide security guarantees for his country and also an invitation to NATO so that Ukraine can join immediately after the war ends.
NATO promised membership to Ukraine already in 2008, but no rules for the accession process were set due to a lack of consensus. What changes may emerge from this week’s summit are unclear.
Some member states, especially Poland and the Baltic countries, say it is necessary to offer a clear perspective to Ukraine. Czech representatives would like to make it clear under what conditions Ukraine could move towards the membership of NATO.