Prague, Czech Republic – Jiří Šedivy, a seasoned Czech diplomat, was elected last week as the new chief executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the first official from the former Eastern bloc to ever be appointed to this position.
A veteran Czech diplomat at the helm of the EDA
Due to take office in April, he was appointed last week by the EU’s Defence Ministers after recommendation from the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrel, who praised his “ministerial and diplomatic experience as well as his deep practical knowledge of the European and transatlantic security and defence realm”.
A graduate of Charles University in Prague, where he earned a PhD in Political Science, and of King’s College in London, where he earned an MA in War Studies, Jiří Šedivy has held numerous top positions over the past decades. Head of the Institute of International Relations in Prague from 1990 to 2004, one of the most prominent Czech think-tanks on defence and security issues, he also served as external advisor to President Vaclav Havel on the road to the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO.
Minister of Defence and Deputy-Minister for European Affairs in ODS-led governments, he was appointed at the Czech Ambassador to NATO from 2012 to 2019 and is currently serving as the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s special envoy for resilience and new security threats in the fight against misinformation and hostile foreign powers. His father had served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 1990s under then-Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.
What is the European Defence Agency?
Established in 2004 and based in Brussels, the European Defence Agency (EDA) is an intergovernmental body in charge of developing and strengthening EU member states’ cooperation on a wide range of military, defence and security issues. Under European law, defence and foreign policy remain a prerogative of individual member states, and – apart from a few exceptions allowed by the treaties – all EU-wide initiatives in that field have to be approved unanimously by all member states.
Jiří Šedivy will have the difficult task of bringing together EU member states and smoothing the rough edges at a time when the EU appears more divided than ever on the future of their collective defence and security architecture, on how much they should push for Europe’s defence and security autonomy and how long they should – and can – keep relying on NATO as the main guarantor of their defence.
Talking to Radio Prague, security analyst Lukáš Dyčka pointed out that “communication between the EDA and NATO is actually very poor, and the [European Defence] Agency is seen as duplicating some functions of other organization in the Alliance structure”.
Main photo credit: ČTK/Michal Kamary