Title: "Civil Control of the Military and Officers in Democratic societies" Project - Cooperation of Association of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Czech Republic with Parliament and the Media in the Field of the Civil Control of the Military
STUDY SATY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC: COOPERATION OF ASSOCIATION OF COMMISSIONED AND WARRANT OFFICERS OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC WITH PARLIAMENT AND THE MEDIA IN THE FIELD OF THE CIVIL CONTROL OF THE MILITARY
Wednesday, 29 April 1998
Senate of the Parliament of CR
The Study Stay was opened by a visit to the Senate of the Parliament of CR at 09:30 a. m. In its Knight's Hall, the Deputy Chairman of Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security of the Senate, Senator Jan Krámek, welcomed the participants. In his opening speech, he pointed out that he was very glad to welcome representatives of the Project target countries at another event within its framework - in this context, he recalled the Round Table devoted to issues of non-governmental organizations´ role in the civil control of the military in CR that was held in November 1997 under his auspices at the same place.
Opening speech of the Project Manager, Ing. Jaroslav Vítek, followed, in which he thanked the Senator Krámek for his personal assistance in support of the given event in the Senate, and then he acquainted the participants with objectives and tasks of the Project.
The chief speaker to the topic of cooperation of the Parliament and armed forces in implementation of the civil control of the military and contribution of the Association of Commissioned and Warrant Officers (SDP) to this process was the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Committee of the House of Deputies of the Parliament, Deputy Jirí Payne. In his opening presentation, he referred to the following aspects of the issue:
* For the present, he is not satisfied with a level of apprehension of the civil control of the military within the Parliament - its committees
* Level of discussion over this issue is not deep enough
* Parliament misses concrete idea about tasks that are routinely performed by the Ministry of Defence
* He himself, from the viewpoint of the civil control of the military, considers the following areas as the key ones:
a) Completion of integral defence legislature
b) Resolution of issues related to the defence planning
c) Training of experts for the defence policy area (experts for state administration authorities, journalists)
Major Issues within Discussion:
F. Schreiber (Germany):
What methods of the civil control of the military are applied in CR? How transition to democratic system after November 1989 was managed to realize it within the Army? F. Schreiber emphasized that in FRG no civil control of the military was being realized but currently it's rather a relation of cooperation.
There are structures in CR, which are holders of the civil control of the military. There is a division of competencies between the House of Deputies of the Parliament (PSP) and the President of the Republic. But legislature must be made up. From the given viewpoint, the great importance is ascribed to adoption of a constitutional act on the state security, which will result in realignment of institutions charged with defence and security issues. J. Payne stressed out that also sound professionalism of politicians was important for the required level of the civil control of the military.
R. Gensmann (Germany):
How do politicians in CR apply methods of non-formal control of the military?
He pointed out that also based on his own experience from former position of the Deputy Minister of Defence that it is necessary to view this matter politically. If a politician wants to apply also methods on non-formal control of the military he must master his profession. He or she must know to distinguish also handicrafts of the policy. In the given concrete case the politicians must learn to give the military clear political objectives.
V. Prokeš (CR):
How does J. Payne view a role of reservists in the process of the civil control of the military as well as a role of SDP within this process?
He emphasized that he considered the reserves as a very clear element in a process of the civil control of the military. From the part of the reserves, it is both formal and non-formal level of the control, although he understands that non-formal level of the control gets in strength first of all through non-governmental organization of the reserves. He considers to be substantial the fact that for winning its spurs in the field of the civil control of the military, the non-governmental organization should not be dependent upon the Ministry of Defence. In this context, he in particular proposed that SDP should look for its funding even through fellowships of the Ministry of Finance for non-governmental organizations pursuant specific projects, which allocation can be influenced also by deputies of the Parliament.
At the end of the discussion, J. Vítek thanked Deputy Payne for his very professional presentation.
Centre for Democracy and Free Enterprise
On the grounds of the Centre for Democracy and Free Enterprise, a debate with the Czech journalists David Šebek (editor of the "SLOVO" daily), and David Vlk (adviser to the "BEST" Media Agency, former editor of the "ZEMSKÉ NOVINY" daily) was held to the topic of "The Media and the Civil Control of the Military in the Czech Republic."
At the beginning of the debate, representatives of the Centre, Ms. Gabriela Ríhová and Mr. Martin Slavík, made the participants familiar with objectives and tasks of the Centre as non-governmental organization dealing, first of all, with EU and NATO educational programmes. They paid a great attention to activities of the NATO Information and Documentary Centre that was opened by the Centre in September 1997. The representatives of the Centre consider the high rate of information on the military as a considerable factor of the civil control of the military.
Both journalists in their presentations and subsequent discussion stated that in their view the media did not fully contribute to the process of the civil control of the military. Besides others, it is because the media are not interested in objective information on the military. On the other hand, there is a problem that the Ministry of Defence many a time does not provide sufficient quantity of objective information on the military. P. Šebek in this context said that the Ministry had in the field of providing information a strategic supremacy that was used in its favour. He suggested several specific examples to this case from recent time.
Also insufficient experience of journalists writing on the defence issues is a factor limiting level of objective information on the military, and by that, the level of the civil control of the military. Also, there are no specialized defence journalists in the Czech media - in the West, there are specialists there, "military correspondents". There is also no institution that would be able to professionally educate the journalists. In general, it results in a deficit of professionalism in materials that are published about the military.
The representatives of the Czech delegation - members of the Association of Commissioned and Warrant Officers (SDP) - pointed out in this context that this is just one of possible suggestions for activities of organizations - SDP should provide more information for journalists on issues of the Army as one of subjects of the civil control of the military. One of platforms of cooperation, and by that also of communication with the public, could be a formation of communities of people - civilian experts, journalists, politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations - that would for a long time involve in defence and security related issues, in the civil control of the military and in the security policy. This community was given a working name of the "Defence Community".
Thursday, 30 April 1998
The subject of visit to the Czech Radio (CRo) was a discussion with a reporter of CRo, Jan Charvát, who engages in defence related issues in the News of Radiojournal channel. The topic of the discussion was the "Role of Radio in the Civil Control of the Military".
Reporter Jan Charvát stressed out aim of the radio for as highest as possible objectivity of newscast on the military. Even in case of critical materials and problems of the Army, there is an effort for positive impact in final consequences. As a quite fundamental change in internal life of the Army, he identified certain social emancipation of soldiers - today, a soldier becomes increasingly a citizen in uniform. On the other hand, according to him the critical problem of the present military is personnel management within the Army and the military bureaucracy - which can be perceived as barriers in effective civil control of the military.
In a subsequent discussion to the mentioned "social emancipation", it was stated that this emancipation can considerably contribute to enhancing the level of the civil control of the military. According to German participants, the radio can considerably contribute to meeting the principle that the existence of working civil control of the military at the same time contributes to integration of the Army into society.
After the discussion was over, participants of the Study Stay took a view of the Czech Radio broadcasting studios.
President of the Republic Office
The participants of the Study Stay visited the Office of the President of the Republic on 30 April 1998 in the afternoon with a goal to discuss the topic of the "President, Parliament and the Media in the Process of the Civil Control of the Military". The discussion was attended by vice-chancellor of the Office of the President of the Republic, Mr. Ivo Mathé (in 1991 - 1998 General Manager of the Czech Television), and military adviser to the President of the Republic, General of the Army Karel Pezl.
The vice-chancellor acquainted the participants with a situation in the field of television broadcasts in the Czech Republic. He laid stress on a question of relation of television broadcasts to issues of the Army and its democratic control. In this context, he expressed the following fundamental conclusions:
- television (and the media generally) starts to pay greater attention to the military, which is given by concrete topics that are newsworthy (enlargement of NATO, SFOR operation, Iraq crisis)
- information on a process of NATO enlargement brought about a considerable positive shift in a level of information on the military
- television considerably made the Army transparent during last year´s extensive floods in Moravia
- it cannot be expected that private television channels will provide objective information on the military - this is rather a role of the public television
- at present, we experience a certain "boom" of the media in CR. But this "boom" is not supported by sufficient number of good journalists. In this context, he emphasized that it is necessary for journalists to make their best in specialization as soon as possible to be then experts-journalists for individual current social topics, including experts for defence related issues, for military and security policy.
The military adviser to the President of the Republic, General of the Army Karel Pezl, emphasized in his presentation a significant role of the President in the process of the civil control of the military. He underlined first of all mutual interrelation of formal and non-formal level of the civil control of the military from the part of the President. The formal level is given by the Constitution and Acts of the Republic; the non-formal level is based on personality of the President. In this context, General Pezl recalled that the President in his office proceeded from the fact that the civil control of the military should contribute to its higher integration into society. In the given case, he, for example, remembered the President's speech, delivered in 1996 at the occasion of anniversary of Czechoslovakia that was completely devoted to the military issues. From the President's view, meeting entire complex of the civil control of the military is also conditioned by quality information on the state of the Army - therefore gathering and evaluation of relevant information on the military is very important part of the civil control of the military.
After the discussion was over, participants of the Study Stay had a chance to take a view of representation rooms of the Prague Castle.
The Study Stay met the set goals. The participants had a chance to acquaint freely with current problems in the field of meeting objectives and goals of the civil control of the military both at a level of formal holders of the civil control (President, Parliament), and non-formal holders (the media, non-governmental organizations). Problems that occur in the subject field are, to a certain extent, the problems of growth. It cannot be, however, otherwise only nine years after the radical social political change in CR. Decisive is the fact that issues of the civil control of the military are discussed, and their individual forms are implemented in practice. The Study Stay also pointed at not fully appreciated role of the Association of Commissioned and Warrant Officers in cooperation with holders of the civil control of the military - just implemented Project can also find and locate forms of cooperation. The Study Stay also opened many questions that are possible to discuss during next undertakings of the Project.