Czech Republic Report



The foreign policy of the Czech Republic has not introduced a whole of-government approach (WGA) as a general framework for coping with external conflicts and crises. In fact, official and working foreign policy documents do not even mention one. Officials working in the field of foreign policy planning and security policy who were interviewed for this report said they are aware of the term (or of the terms ‘comprehensive approach’ and/or ‘integrated approach’), and point out that Czech foreign policy coordination mechanisms are indeed designed to fulfil the principle functions of a WGA. A de facto WGA has been introduced in a few cases for which a specific strategy or implementation plan was elaborated. These cases include Afghanistan, Iraq, the Sahel and Syria. The main motivation for introducing a specific strategy has been the need (or desire) of the involved domestic institutional actors to request additional budgetary resources.
From a broader perspective, three things should be noted. First, standard foreign policy coordination in the Czech Republic already involves some mechanisms of a WGA. Second, there are some parallels with a WGA in the country’s crisis-management system. And, third, the Czech provincial and reconstruction team that was in Logar, Afghanistan, from 2008 to 2013 as well as recent initiatives related to Iraq, Syria and the Sahel could be perceived as embodying a type of WGA, although there is no mention of this term or a ‘comprehensive/integrated approach’ in the related documentation.
The constitutional and administrative framework related to foreign policy coordination makes it possible to apply WGA policies to external conflicts and crises. For example, the constitution stipulates that the government has executive power, which also includes responsibly for foreign policy. The key government authority dealing with foreign policy issues is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). However, some instruments for successful WGA efforts are located within other ministries, such as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI), which also play a key role in crisis management, as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade. While foreign policy coordination is performed on the governmental level, coordination of EU affairs is done through the Committee for the European Union and the (similarly named) Committee for the European Union on the Working Level.
Thus, in the Czech constitutional system, the MFA plays the leading role when it comes to foreign engagement. All information on conflict prevention, security, stabilisation, conflict settlement and reconstruction is pooled within the MFA, which usually proposes any subsequent action. In case of a very serious crisis, the government may launch crisis-management efforts, as defined in the act on crisis management (Crisis Management Act 2000). These procedures are well planned and often tested, and they would mobilise a huge amount of human, material and financial resources. Nevertheless, any engagement with a crisis situation would be reactive and expected to be short-term.
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