Martin Stropnicky has been sworn in as the Czech Republic's new defense minister. (Agence France-Presse)
WARSAW — Czech President Milos Zeman has sworn in Martin Stropnicky as the country’s new defense minister. Stropnicky will be part of the newly appointed Cabinet of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka from the Czech Social Democratic Party.
The new defense minister was elected as a member of parliament in 2013. From 1990 to 2002 he held a number of posts with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, serving as the country’s ambassador to Portugal, Italy and the Holy See. In 1998, Stropnicky was briefly appointed to head the Czech Ministry of Culture. Between 2003 and 2012, he worked as the artistic director of the Vinohrady theater in Prague.
Local analysts say one of the new minister’s most important tasks will be to ink a deal on extending the lease of 14 Saab JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters from Sweden.
The Czech Republic has been reportedly planning to extend the contract, which is set to expire this year, to 2029, but the decision was put on hold by the previous caretaker government. From 2004 to 2014, Prague will pay about 19.6 billion crowns (US $972 million) for the lease of 14 jet fighters.