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Brno, July 31 (CTK) – The strength of the Czech military should rise to 30,000 people in five to seven years from the current 23,000, Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky said on Friday, adding that the recruitment has been successful in the past years and the net growth reached a record 1300 people in 2016.

Stropnicky spoke to journalists during a parade of Defence University graduates.

The number of 30,000 professional soldiers also previously was mentioned by Chief-of-Staff Josef Becvar.

Stropnicky said today the military is an attractive employer.

“The spectrum of professions is very wide. We need both drivers and top-level surgeons and pilots,” he said.

However, the current low unemployment (4 percent) is an obstacle. In industry alone, 120,000 people are lacking and that is also why the military is doing a recruitment campaign, Stropnicky said.

He said the Czech military is one of the smallest in Europe per capita.

The recruitment is to be helped by an increase in the military’s budget on which Stropnicky and Finance Minister Ivan Pilny agreed on Thursday.

They confirmed that defence spending will increase to 1.4 percent of GDP by 2020.

The original proposal for the Defence Ministry’s medium-term spending envisaged a slower growth.

The Czech military pledged to spend 2 percent of GDP on entering NATO in 1999.

The Defence Ministry’s budget this year is 52.5 billion crowns. Stropnicky would like next year’s sum to be minimally five billion crown higher, while nine billion would be ideal.

Stropnicky and Pilny will conduct further negotiations about the budget.

“I am an optimist and we will do everything for the increase not to be 10 percent only,” he said.

In addition to employees’ salaries, the money will be also spent on upgrading the military.

“We still use obsolete Soviet-made weapons in a number of cases. The deficit in this is high,” Stropnicky said.

($1=22.269 crowns)

ms/dr/rtj

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Title  picture: By David Sedlecký (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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