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Remarks by Secretary Mattis and Minister Stropnicky at the Pentagon

May 2, 2017
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Czech Republic Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS: Minister Stropnicky, welcome to the Pentagon.  It's good to see you again.  I first -- we first spoke in Brussels in February, and it's good to host you here in Washington.

I would point out that for 18 years our nations have been NATO allies. In our first tranche of nations coming into NATO after the end of the Cold War, it's no surprise Czech Republic was in the first group coming in.

I would just say, too, that you're special forces have -- all your forces, but especially your special forces, have served very valiantly alongside us, and we don't forget that here in this building in Washington, D.C.  We remember that and of your forces to include your chemical decontamination forces that joined us right after 9/11.  So thank you so much for that.

We do face the new reality with the Russian provocation with the terrorist threat from the south, and NATO is beading together on this.  And certainly we look forward to standing strong with our bedrock alliance all the way through on this, this fight.  

And I would just say too that your involvement with the Defeat ISIS campaign is heartening.  It shows you stand with the civilized nations of the world.  Your ground troops in the Baltic, and your policing.  You're a full-fledged member of NATO, as are we, and now on that common ground we welcome you here, so again, welcome, and the floor is yours.

DEFENSE MINISTER MARTIN STROPNICKY:  Thank you very, very much, Mr. -- for your warm welcome, for your kind words, which I appreciate very much, and I'm glad that you have quite a detailed view on what we are actually doing in this country, this alliance.   

I would like to underline that for us, the membership in the alliance is absolutely crucial that something, which is out of any discussion, and it's one of the main pillars of democratic development after 1989, after the democratic changes, and that we of course want to remain on that track.  We must.  And we -- and I will tell you in more detail later on what we are preparing and how we are facing the fair burden sharing, which is extremely important, and I know that it's an issue for the new administration.  No surprise absolutely logical and fair, so that's one of the main reasons I'm here.

SEC. MATTIS:  Well, thank you again, and before the press leaves I must note that you make the finest beer I have ever tasted. (Laughter.)

So thank you very much.  Thank you.