Ladies and Gentlemen,
While the Czech Republic continues to be one of the world's most peaceful countries, it is also part of a world which has become less predictable and less secure.
In order to better respond to a multitude of security threats and challenges, the Czech Republic has solidified the NATO Wales summit pledge and has committed to spend 2 % GDP on defence by 2024 and to increase investment in defence capabilities. Our public is increasingly aware that security is not to be taken for granted. Without the necessary investment, our defence and security forces would not be able to perform its share in the collective defence of NATO, to contribute to projecting stability in NATO neighbourhood, or to counter terrorism.
The current international security environment stimulates the demand for innovative and more efficient solutions. The long-standing tradition of the defence and security industry in the Czech Republic complemented with a technological leadership, knowledge of the customers' needs and dynamism of our companies as an "industry standard" - these are the necessary prerequisites for success on international markets. Growing volume of defence exports reflects both the ambition of our companies as well as excellent level of our bilateral relations with a broad spectrum of international partners.
Last year's figures clearly illustrate this trend: the Czech export control authorities approved the licences worth 800 million Euro - the second-best result in the modern history - and the Czech companies exported defence and security products worth 570 million Euro, also the second-best result.
I am proud that the current edition of the Future Forces Forum is taking place again in Prague. Our success on international markets has also to do with transparency and credibility of our licensing policies. I am convinced that only a responsible behaviour of both governments and exporters can guarantee that international markets remain lucrative, competitive and open.
I am confident that this year's series of the Future Forces Forum will build on the successful tradition of previous meetings and that it will facilitate an active engagement among allied and partner countries, international organizations, private sector, academia and other relevant stakeholders across the globe. I am also sure that it will contribute to the reputation of the Czech Republic, its industry, technology and services. I expect it will pave the way to new security deals and cooperation.
I wish you a successful meeting!
First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic