The ninth annual NATO Days in Ostrava attracted a record number of visitors and international participants.
By Ian Bancroft and Mirjana Kosic
TransConflict Serbia’s co-founders, Mirjana Kosic and Ian Bancroft, participated in the ninth annual NATO Days – the largest air, military and security show in central Europe – which took place in the town of Ostrava, in east of the Czech Republic, from 16-20th September. Organized by Jagello 2000 – Association for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, the main weekday program, which was for the first time held over two days, was attended by an estimated 135,000 people.
With 2009 marking both the sixtieth anniversary of NATO and the tenth anniversary of the Czech Republic’s membership of the Alliance, this year’s event had a particular symbolism and significance, especially following the USA’s recent decision to scrap plans for a European missile defence system, radar stations for which were expected to be deployed in the Czech Republic.
NATO Days in Ostrava consists of a variety of presentations and workshops, displays of military and security hardware and equipment, and various air displays. A series of dynamic displays by a variety of actors (including soldiers, fire fighters, police forces, customs officers, the prison service and other elite units) demonstrated their civilian crisis management capabilities – including cross-border chases, the forced stopping of vehicles, the rescue of civilians from crashed vehicles and the extinguishing of fires – and highlighted specific scenarios experienced by Czech troops in Afghanistan, such as assaults on storage facilities, prisoner captures, the arrest of drug smugglers and the freeing of hostages. Alongside the Czech Army and Air Force, there were a variety of participants from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Great Britain and the USA.
According to Zbyněk Pavlačík, chairman of the Jagello 2000 Association, “it is the opportunity to see presentations by the military, the police, and rescue and special forces that make NATO Days in Ostrava unique”. Such simulations served to demonstrate to the audience the complementarity and contribution of the military with respect to the day-to-day lives of civilians, particularly the positive impact they can have in a variety of emergency situations, thereby highlighting the importance of well-articulated communication and co-operation between the two.
NATO Days in Ostrava also showcased a joint Czech-Dutch photo-exhibition, entitled ‘Did you know that…’, which explores the efforts of the Czech and Dutch Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) to stabilize and reconstruct Afghanistan. The Czech Republic’s PRT, composed of around 500, is currently deployed in the Logar Province, southeast of Kabul; whilst the Netherlands’ PRT is deployed in the Uruzgan Province in central Afghanistan. The exhibition is designed to raise awareness about the specific tasks undertaken by the PRTs, particularly in the areas of security, governance and economic development.
NATO Days in Ostrava 2009 was organized by Jagello 2000 Association, the Joint Forces Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, the Fire Rescue Brigade of the Moravian-Silesian Region, the Police of the Czech Republic and the Ostrava Leos Janacek Airport. The event is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, the Moravian-Silesian Region, NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division and the Statutory City of Ostrava.
For further information on this event, please visit www.dny-nato.cz
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