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Czech Republic: Cohen Says Military Lagging But Catching Up

Washington, 22 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen says the Czech Republic lags behind Poland and Hungary in military capability but is determined to catch up by the year 2000.

He said the Czechs have made several major changes in resource allocations in recent weeks, giving more to the NATO commitment.

Cohen said the U.S. is pleased that the Czechs have been so responsive.

He told a U.S. Senate Committee yesterday that the Czech Republic's defense budget is currently 1.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that this figure is slated to rise to two percent by the year 2000.

Earlier yesterday, visiting Czech Senator Michael Zantovsky told a Washington conference that the Czech government is cutting spending in every area except defense in the 1998 national budget.

He said his country's military spending will now be comparable to the defense budgets of its military allies and Central European neighbors.