Institutional and Documentary Framework of the Czech Security Policy
In this article its author wanted to treat the history and presence of the system constitutional institutions competent for the area of conception, execution and control of security and defence policy of the Czech Republic and also addresses in short the function and content of the main security documents of the country. The author tried to sketch the institutional and documentary framework of the Czech security policy and to explain roles, relations and obligations of the highest-level constitutional bodies in the process of creation and carrying out of this policy (especially positions of the President, the Parliament, the Government and its so called power ministries and other important institutions). This text does not take a lot all this theme in detail, but it is more aimed at basic information and its target is to expound these problems to those interested, especially to foreign students.
Security Policy, Czech Republic, President, Parliament, Government, National Security Council
After the origin of the Czech Republic in 1993 the area of security and defence policy was often neglected leaving the centre of public attention to topics connected with deep social, economic and political transformation of the country. Only in conception with the Czech Republic joining NATO together with finishing the main stages of social transformation the security and defence policy became more reflected. Thus only the late 90-s brought the constitution amendments and passing many so called defence laws. These changes allowed forming of a complex state security system and set presumptions for conception and execution of a long-term security and defence policy. Still, the system is not fully optimised and keeps struggling with the results of often chaotic and conception lacking development in the period of 1993-1998. Nevertheless its basic parts function without major problems today.
Constitutional Institutions and Their Role in Security Policy of the State
The system is institutionally conceived in concordance with constitutional order of the Czech Republic. Its basic elements are mainly the constitutional institutions and functionaries, i.e. the Government of the Czech Republic, the President, the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and further on the National Security Council of the Czech Republic and its regular working bodies. Security system of the Czech Republic is not limited to the above elements, it is formed in its entire scope, i.e. also on the level of regional, district and local authorities utilizing security and emergency councils newly formed with these organs. Also the part of physical and legal entities should not be neglected.
The basic feature and intention of the complex conception of security of the Czech Republic is the interconnection and mutual dependence of political, military, economic, social and internal security levels while respecting international contractual and political principles and bonds of the Czech Republic, the constitution of the Czech Republic, The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the legal system of the Czech Republic.
The fundamental institutional framework and relationships among state institutions in the area of security and defence policy are set by the highest legal norm – The Constitution of the Czech Republic. Among its parts there are the Constitutional Law n. 110/1998 on Security of the Czech Republic and Constitutional Law n. 300/2000. These regulations are further elaborated in a series of so called military laws. (One of them is e.g. law n. 222/1999 Sb. on securing defence of the Czech Republic which states the obligations of state organs, regional governing bodies and physical and legal entities to ensure the defence of the Czech Republic or law n. 240/2000 Sb. on crisis management.)
According to the above mentioned Constitutional Law n. 110/1998 on Security of the Czech Republic, securing the sovereignty and integrity of the Czech Republic, protection of its democratic foundations and protection of lives, health and material values are the fundamental obligation of the state.
Government - Its Authorities and Obligations
According to the Constitution and its novellization, primary responsibility for security and defence of the country is entrusted with the Government as a supreme executive organ. The Government is responsible for preparation and securing the defence of the country. In order to secure the defence of the country in peace time, the Government:
a) Assesses the risks of threat to the country which might be a cause for armed conflict and takes necessary measures to reduce and possibly eliminate such risks
b) Passes strategic concept of the country’s defence (in the form of documents which will be treated of later),
c) Directs the process of defensive planning,
d) Decides on basic measures for preparation for defence,
e) Decides on basic directions of construction, preparation and use of armed forces and securing the defence of the country,
f) Passes the concept of mobilisation of armed forces,
g) Passes the concept of preparation of citizens for defence of the country,
h) Assigns tasks to ministers and heads of other administrative offices and municipalities to carry out its decisions,
i) Decides on other unforeseeable tasks necessary to secure the defence of the country.
In order to secure the defence of the country in emergency or war time, the Government:
a) Draws conclusions from military-political assessment of international relations and decides on realisation of necessary measures to avoid armed conflict and increase the country’s preparedness for defence,
b) Decides on measures to ensure effective functioning of the defence system,
c) Decides on priorities in performing tasks connected with ensuring the defence of the country,
d) Decides on measures necessary to wage war.
The Government also decides on sending out armed forces of the Czech Republic outside the territory of the Czech Republic and deployment of other countries’ armed forces on the territory of the Czech Republic for maximum period of 60 days in the following cases:
a) Fulfilling the bonds of international contracts of common defence against aggression,
b) Participation in peace operations according to decision of an international organisation of which the Czech Republic is a member with the agreement of the receiving country,
c) Participation in rescue operations during natural disasters and industrial or ecological emergencies.
Likewise it decides on other countries’ armed forces transport across the territory of the Czech Republic and on participation of armed forces of the Czech Republic in military trainings outside the territory of the Czech Republic and on participation of other countries’ armed forces in military trainings on the territory of the Czech Republic
Position of the President
The second summit of the executive power in the Czech Republic beside the Government is the President. The role of the President in the constitutional system of the Czech republic is relatively weak. From the point of view of security and defence policy, the President has the only significant authority – he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and his competence covers commanding the Military Office and the Castle Guard. The Military Office ensures the performing of administrative tasks connected with the executing of the function of the commander-in-chief and the Castle Guard is an autonomous unit, in fact independent on the Army of the Czech Republic, and its obligation is defence of the president and carrying og the ceremonial functions. The President is bound to respect the decisions of the Government and the Parliament in the security and defence area, still, his role of a representative of the country is irreplaceable. According to response from abroad, the personal popularity of Václav Havel contributed towards the incorporation of the Czech Republic into NATO much more then his authorities of the president of the country.
Who Ensures the Security of the Czech Republic
Security of the Czech Republic is secured by the armed forces (i.e. Army of the Czech Republic, Military Office of the President and Castle Guard) and rescue corps and services (the most important of which is the Fire Rescue Service which is the backbone of the Integrated Rescue System of the Czech Republic). Army of the Czech Republic is managed by the Ministry of Defence, Military Office and Prague Castle Guard are subordinated to the president and rescue corps and services are under authority of the Ministry of Interior.
The controlling role and decisive power in security issues of high importance is entrusted with the two-chamber Parliament of the Czech Republic. The Government is obliged to inform both chambers of the Parliament about all important decisions. The Parliament can rule out the Government’s decision in case of disapproval.
The Parliament decides to declare the state of war if the Czech Republic is attacked or if it is necessary to fulfil international bonds of common defence against aggression. Further on it decides on participation of the Czech Republic in defence systems of international organisations of which the Czech Republic is a member and passes consent with sending out armed forces of the Czech Republic outside the territory of the Czech Republic and deployment of other countries’ armed forces on the territory of the Czech Republic unless such a decision is exclusive to the Government.
Both chambers of the Parliament have specialised organs dealing with the security and defence policy and their main task is assuming standpoints towards discussed legislation dealing with security and defence.
From the point of view of constitutional delimitation, bigger importance lies with the Chamber of Deputies which has more members and can rule out prospective veto of the Senate. The members of the Senate are voted for differently, the Senate has a different structure and less authority. Its role is still irreplaceable, especially in emergency situations. Due to different manner of voting into the Senate when only one third is being renewed at a time, the upper chamber is actually never dissolved and hence plays the role of a safeguard for such occasions when it is necessary to pass important decisions and the lower chamber is dissolved or defunct.
Such measures are e.g. declaring the state of emergency, state of security threat or state of war. Such states are declared if the sovereignty, territorial integrity, democratic foundations of the Czech Republic or to a large extent internal order and security, lives and health, material values or environment are in danger or if it is necessary to fulfil international bonds of common defence.
State of Emergency
State of emergency is declared by the Government of the Czech Republic in cases of natural disasters, ecological or industrial emergencies, accidents or other danger to lives, health or material values of internal order and security. It is declared for a limited area or the entire territory of the country. If there is a danger of delay, state of emergency can be declared by the Prime Minister. He Government confirms or rules out his decision within 24 hours since. The Government immediately informs the House of Deputies which can withdraw the declaration. If the House of Deputies is dissolved, the decision of prospective prolongation or lifting the state of emergency is passed over to the Senate. The state of emergency can be declared only while stating the reasons for a certain period of time (for the maximum of 30 days) and for certain area. It can be extended after prior consent of the House of Deputies or Senate, respectively. The state of emergency ends after the expiration of the period for which it was declared unless the Government r the Parliament do not decide on lifting it before this period expires. The last case of declaring the state of emergency was in mid August of last year in several regions stricken with the catastrophic floods.
State of Security Threat
The Parliament (both chambers) can declare the state of security threat to the state on the proposal from the Government, if the sovereignty or territorial integrity or the democratic foundations of the state are in danger. It is declared for a certain area or the entire territory of the country.
State of war
The state of war is decided on by the Parliament in case of aggression against the Czech Republic or if it is necessary to fulfil contractual bonds of common defence against aggression.
To pass a resolution of declaration of the state of war and to pass a resolution of consent with sending out the armed forces of the Czech Republic outside the territory of the Czech Republic or with the deployment of other countries’ armed forces on the territory of the Czech Republic as well as to pass a resolution of participation of the Czech Republic in defence systems of international organisations of which the Czech Republic is a member the consent of clear majority of the deputies and of clear majority of the senators is necessary. It is declared for the entire territory of the country.
For the period of the state of security threat or the state of war, the Government can demand that the Parliament discusses the Government law propositions in short proceeding. Resolution of such a proposition is passed by the House of Deputies within 72 hours and by the Senate within 24 hours since being passed on by the House. If the Senate does not pass the resolution within this period, it holds that the proposition is passed. For the period of the state of security threat or the state of war, the President is not allowed to return the laws passed in short proceedings (in other words, the President is left out of the legislative process in order to accelerate the passing of laws) nor can he propose constitutional laws (i.e. amend the Constitution).
The decisions of state of emergency, state of security threat or state of war are published in mass media and are declared the same way as laws. The declaration of state of emergency, state of security threat or state of war allows temporary partial or bodily limiting of human rights and freedoms of the citizens (e.g. restricting freedom of movement, forced evacuation, work engagement of citizens, temporary confiscation of technical equipment etc.)
National Security Council
An important institution from the point of view of creating and carrying out security and defence policy is the National Security Council. The council was established by law n. 110/1998 Sb., of security of the Czech Republic as a regular working body of the Government for the coordination of the problematic of security of the Czech Republic and preparation of proposals of measures to ensure it.
The chair of the council is the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the vice-chair is the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the members are the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Minister of Defence, Minister of the Interior, Minister and the Chair of the Office of the Government, Minister for Industry and Trade and Minister of Transport and Communications. The agenda proceedings of the council also involve the Governor of the Czech National Bank and the Chair of the Administration of the State Material Reserves. Regularly invited are also the Chief of the General Staff – General of the Armed Forces and the Police President. The President of the Czech Republic has the right to participate on the meetings, too. The council meets at least once in three months. Inside the council, four permanent committees work:
The Committee for Foreign Security Policy Coordination – for internal coordination of the foreign security policy of the Czech Republic, within the sphere of control of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
The Defence Planning Committee – for the coordination of the planning of measures to safeguard the defence of the Czech Republic, within the sphere of control of the Minister of Defence,
The Civil Emergency Planning Committee – for the coordination and planning of measures to safeguard the internal security of the state, the population and economy and co-ordination of the requirements for civil resources, which are necessary to safeguard the security of the Czech Republic, within the sphere of control of the Minister of the Interior,
The Intelligence Activity Committee – for the coordination of the activities of the intelligence services of the Czech Republic and planning measures to secure intelligence activities and co-operation with the state bodies that gather and evaluate information necessary for safeguarding the security of the Czech Republic, within the sphere of control of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Committee does not develop any intelligence activity on its own.
And further Central Crisis Staff – as a working body of the Council for providing solutions to crisis situations or other serious situations concerning the security interests of the Czech Republic (within the sphere of control of the Minister of Defence - in the event of an external military threat to the Czech Republic, in fulfilling allied obligations abroad and in the participation of Czech armed forces in international operations for the restoration and maintenance of peace, within the sphere of control of the Minister of the Interior - in the event of other types of threat to the Czech Republic, in the provision of large scale humanitarian aid abroad and in engaging the Czech Republic in international rescue operations in the event of major accidents and natural disasters).
The fundamental obligation of the Council is to participate in creating a reliable security system, to ensure coordination and control of measures to safeguard the security of the Czech Republic and international bonds. The Council coordinates and evaluates the issue of security of the Czech Republic and prepares propositions of measures to safeguard it for the Government. National Security Council is also an organ which proposes basic documents of security and defence policy to the Government.
The Basic Documents of the Security and Defence Policy
The Government of the Czech Republic passed two fundamental documents defining its intentions in the area of security and defence policy. The first of the documents is the Security Strategy of the Czech Republic which is the supreme programme document for the area.
Security Strategy of the Czech Republic was firstly passed as a fundamental concept document by the Government in 1999. Before that, no document of like character had existed. Last year an updated version of security strategy was passed and its regular update every two years is presumed.
Security Strategy of the Czech Republic defines fundamental starting points of security policy and specifies national interests among which belong securing the sovereignty of the state, its democratic character, human rights protection and solving international conflicts in a peaceful way. It also specifies security environment in which it appears and describes threats which are important from the point of view of the security of the state. Here belongs above all the threat of international terrorism, the consequences of the conflicts in the Balkans and the unstable situation in the Middle East; a problem is viewed in illegal migration, international crime and arms trafficking including weapons of mass destruction.
Security Strategy is above all a general concept document and therefore it suggests which way the Czech Republic intends to proceed. Safeguarding its security is chiefly seen in further intensification of the co-operation with NATO member states and in activities in organisations of collective security. It also presumes joining the Common Security and Defence Policy following its joining the EU.
The Czech Republic wants to attain its objectives through active participation in bilateral relations as well as in international organisations and also improving its security and defence system. As the Security Strategy is above all a document of security policy, it is very extensive as to enumeration of areas it deals with. It also pays attention to the area of the interior, economy policy, foreign policy, defence policy and many others.
Security Strategy presents specific and clear programme of the Czech Republic in the area of security and defence policy and it serves not only as a concept framework for decision making in the subordinate bodies of the system, but it also explains the situation and intentions to the citizens and allies or partners abroad.
Due to its general character and also due to the fact that the armed forces play the most important role in the defence of the country and its security, the Government has passed another important document which elaborates on the Security Strategy of the Czech Republic. The document is Military Strategy of the Czech Republic.
Military Strategy of the Czech Republic was firstly passed in 1999 and it was updated following the new version of the Security Strategy of the Czech Republic in 2002. Military Strategy is based on Security Strategy and it offers its more detailed and closely aimed elaboration. It sums up the complex of principles and policies connected with safeguarding the security of the state including avoiding prospective military threat or armed aggression. It declares fundamental the determination to defend the country at all circumstances as well as the part of the Czech Republic on ensuring the collective defence of the Alliance and safeguarding international security.
Military Strategy defines the principles of preparation of the armed forces for activities in emergency situations. On the basis of the analysis of military-political situation, existing security risks, historical experience, defence priorities, evaluation of the objectives and time horizon of prospective military threat, technological progress in the area of new means of combat and prospective ways of waging the war, regulations by international contracts, agreements and acts and economical faculties of the country it states the fundamental tasks and ways of using the armed forces of the Czech Republic and priorities of their building and preparation with regard to joint operating with armed forces of the NATO allies.
It specifies the security risks for the country being aimed at anticipating, monitoring and preventing threats for the security of the country and the part of the armed forces in their elimination. It states fundamental measures to attain the preparedness of the state to face armed attack. Fulfilling the Military Strategy allows the Czech Republic to participate in creating new strategic environment in the Euro-Atlantic area, to react to new scope of emergency situations and to prepare for future challenges.
Military Strategy sums up the main procedures and principles necessary to fulfil the basic obligations of the armed forces of the Czech Republic and is a starting point for elaborating particular resort documents.
Both Strategies are furthermore begun to work on other lower-level documents such as the Reform of the Czech Armed Forces, the Conception of Czech Foreign Policy, the Medium-Term Conception of the Social and Economic Development etc.
The Czech security system went through significant changes in last years. From the beginning of 90´s to 1997 the marginal attention was paid to problems of security policy only and matters of defence and security were lying in shadow of the deep political, social and economic transformation. Consequently not only a nonconceptional approach, disorder in armed forces and confusion in authorized offices were undergo, but also ability of the Czech Republic to face the scale of security challenges was cut down considerably. Only then the Czech Republic had started the process of integration into NATO, an accomplishment of main stages of the transition were finished and series of natural disasters occurred, the situation changed dramatically. New challenges, upcoming membership in NATO and the European Union entailed rapid redress of appalling state in this area. The flexible legislative framework and operational institutional security system were created. Nowadays this system is able to react on the bulk of military and non-military perils, to keep security and needs of citizens in emergency situations and prevent possible negative impacts of mentioned risks. Mutual relations and remits of peak constitutional bodies were clarified, the Constitution was changed and supplemented, a special governmental body (the National Security Council) was built, a part of responsibility was assigned on the lower administrative districts, the Integrated Rescue System was interconnected, armed forces began the process of its reduction and full profesionalisation etc. From the end of last decade the Security Strategy of the Czech Republic and the Military Strategy of the Czech Republic have been published regularly as well as other important documents, which inform Czech citizens and foreign partners and allies about basic principles of the Czech security policy.
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