Czech PM says defense spending rising to reach NATO target

FILE PHOTO: Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis takes part in a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech Republic will keep raising its defense spending as it works to reach the level of 2 percent of gross domestic product in 2024, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday.

“The main part of (NATO’s) work is done in the member states, in building their defense capabilities so that we are able to defend a member of our alliance should he be attacked,” Babis told a conference marking the Czech Republic’s 20th anniversary of joining the alliance.

“That is why our republic has pledged to reach the level of 2 percent of GDP in defense spending by 2024. Defense spending has been growing each year since 2015 and it will continue to grow,” Babis said.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Andrew Heavens