The Czech parliament’s lower house approved on Friday government-backed legislation to increase the country’s military spending to the level required by NATO, as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on.
The bill, which must now be approved by the senate, would require the country to spend at least two percent of its gross domestic product on defence.
“We promised this to NATO in the 1990s and we have failed to meet the promise,” Defence Minister Jana Cernochova told parliament, adding that it was the government’s “duty” to fulfil the pledge.
The Czech Republic is spending 1.5 percent of GDP on defence in its current budget.
The legislation would take effect in July and apply to next year’s budget.
The Czech Republic, which joined NATO in 1999, was forced to rethink its defence spending after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
The Czech government has provided Ukraine with substantial military and humanitarian aid since the invasion started, including heavy weaponry such as tanks.
Parliament on Friday also eased the conditions for Czechs to join the army and raised a bonus for new reservists.
Czechs elected former NATO general Petr Pavel as president in January. He took office last month.