Pompeo to Visit Central, Eastern Europe to Discuss Regional Security, Energy Cooperation

Efforts to counter Chinese, Russian influence on the agenda
August 9, 2020 Updated: August 9, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Central and Eastern Europe this week to discuss regional security issues, efforts to counter Chinese and Russian influence in the region, and energy cooperation.

Pompeo will visit the Czech Republic on Aug. 11, where he’ll meet with his Czech counterpart Tomas Petricek to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Western Czechoslovakia in World War II by the U.S. Army. Pompeo also will meet with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis to discuss nuclear energy cooperation, and he will have “a courtesy call” with Czech President Milos Zeman, according to a State Department statement.

Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis
Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Andrej Babis arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit, held to discuss the EU’s long-term budget for 2021–2027, in Brussels, on Feb. 21, 2020. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters)

The main topics of Pompeo’s talks in the Czech Republic will be defense and economic cooperation, as well as protecting human rights, according to Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of state at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.

Reeker contrasted the U.S. Army’s liberation of Western Czechoslovakia from German occupation in 1945, with the Soviet Red Army, which imposed a communist dictatorship on the country and practically occupied it until the disintegration of the Eastern Communist Bloc in Europe in 1989.

At a briefing on Aug. 7, Reeker noted the Czech Republic’s participation alongside the United States in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying the country serves as “the U.S. protecting power” in Syria.

Czechia, as part of a comprehensive 5G security initiative, hosted a conference where representatives of governments from more than 30 countries, the European Union, and NATO developed the Prague Proposals: a set of recommendations and principles for countries to design, develop, and maintain secure 5G networks.

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Slovenia’s president Borut Pahor speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Ljubljana, Slovenia on March 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

On Aug. 13, Pompeo will travel to Slovenia, where he will sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security with Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Anze Logar and meet with Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Janez Jansa to discuss cooperation between the two countries on nuclear energy as well as “Western Balkan integration,” according to the State Department.

Reeker praised Slovenia as a “capable, reliable defense partner” that has played an important role “in promoting stability and security” in the region, such as conducting together with the United States de-mining operations and training in the Western Balkans over the past two decades.

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Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addresses the media in Vienna, Austria, March 6, 2019. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Pompeo will travel to Vienna, on Aug. 14 to meet Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to discuss trade, investment, and regional security.

Pompeo will also meet in Vienna with Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA is charged with monitoring Iran’s adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal from which the United States withdrew in 2018.

Austria is “an East-West hub, a venue for international dialogue and negotiations,” Reeker said, adding that the United States has a mission to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe headquartered there.

Austria isn’t a NATO member, but it contributes to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan as well as in the Middle East and Africa.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit, in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2019. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters/File Photo)
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Brussels, Belgium, on Oct. 18, 2019. (Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)

The last stop of Pompeo’s trip will be Poland. On Aug. 15, he will meet with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz to discuss a wide range of topics, from defense cooperation and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic to 5G network security and the Three Seas Initiative aimed to improve the regional energy and infrastructure situation, the statement said.

Pompeo will also meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda and participate in a ceremony to commemorate “the centennial of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish forces defeated the Bolsheviks.”

Poland will also celebrate in August the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Solidarity—the free trade union and political social movement that started the erosion of the Eastern Communist Bloc and contributed to the collapse of communism in Europe and the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“Poland is one of our closest and strongest allies,” Reeker said. “We enjoy an unprecedented level of bilateral relations.”

Poland hosts “thousands of U.S. troops rotating annually as part of our joint efforts to ensure European security” and has offered to contribute resources to increase U.S. military presence, Reeker said.

Poland is one of the few NATO allies that fulfills its obligation to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense, pledged by all NATO members.

The United States is seeking cooperation with European and other countries on the security of 5G networks due to the threat of infiltration posed by the Chinese communist regime. Reeker said this issue could be a topic of talks, to some extent, with each country.

The Czech Republic and Poland have already committed to using only trusted vendors in their 5G networks.

All four countries are members of the European Union, but only the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovenia are NATO members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.