The world’s most powerful military alliance, NATO, is in the middle of a far reaching and overdue rethink of its strategy. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is leading a group tasked with pointing the way. She and other members of the group were in the Czech capital Prague on Tuesday to collect input and give some pointers where the process is heading.
The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, says a new NATO strategic concept currently being prepared should strengthen security guarantees for the countries of central and eastern Europe. Mr Kohout made the comments after a conference at the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended by the Prague-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright. She is heading a team sounding out opinion on the new strategic concept in various NATO member states. Minister Kohout said the alliance should maintain a balance between foreign missions and the traditional defence of its members.
Over the last two years we have listened to sounds from the Czech Radio archives going back over eighty years. In this, the last of the series, we look at two of the big events of the last decade - the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO and then, five years later, to the European Union. We start with NATO, which the Czech Republic joined in March 1999 along with Hungary and Poland. In 2002 Prague hosted a major NATO summit, at which seven further Eastern and Central European countries were invited to join. At the summit, President Václav Havel
US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Ellen Tauscher is expected in Prague on Monday for talks focusing
predominantly on anti-missile defense. Ms Tauscher is scheduled to meet
with the Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, and the leaders of the two
strongest parties in the country, the Civic and Social Democrats.
After scrapping Bush-era missile defense plans for Central Europe, the Obama administration has expressed interest in building a missile defense system that would be part of NATO defense structures. According to diplomatic sources Washington has already submitted specific proposals under which the Czech Republic might join the emerging project, but no details have been released.
The Czech Republic has backed a new US missile defence plan meant to
defend against possible threats from Iran or other states. The move came as
US Vice President Joe Biden wrapped-up his visit to Central Europe on
Friday, which included a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer in
the Czech capital. Following talks between the two, the Czech prime
minister confirmed that the Czech Republic is ready to take part in the new
project. The new programme will focus on short and medium-range rockets and
replace an earlier proposal by the previous US administration to site a
radar base in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland.
In Prague on Friday, US Vice President Biden stressed that the new system will strengthen NATO’s defences against future missile threats. He confirmed that a high-level defence team will travel to Prague in November to discuss the terms of Czech participation.
The US Vice-President, Joe Biden, met with Czech officials in Prague on Friday on the third leg of his Eastern European tour intended to test the ground for the region’s participation in a new US missile defence plan. At a news conference following the talks, Mr Biden and Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said the Czech Republic was ready to get involved in the revamped project.
US Vice-President Joe Biden is coming to Prague, the third leg of his Eastern European tour. Some five weeks after the Obama administration shelved plans to build elements of missile defence in the Czech Republic and Poland, Mr Biden is expected to dispel concerns that the United States has pushed the region to the periphery of its interest. The head of Political Science Institute of Prague’s Charles University, Bořivoj Hnízdo, says any reassurance Mr Biden can give the Czech Republic will be very important.
The Czech internet news site iDnes has reported that the Czech military is planning on buying two sets of Ravens - remote-controlled miniature unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAV) - from the US firm Aero Vironment for 20 million crowns. The sale is to take place by the end of November, the site reported. The sale covers six planes, including logistics. The planes are to be deployed with the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) now operating in the province Logar, a military spokesman said. The Ravens are compatible within NATO, can be launched easily, and at full speed can fly up to 95 kilometres per hour. They are used largely for reconnaissance missions.
The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout was in New York on Monday for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On the table: possible future cooperation in US missile defence, a move to apparently reassure US partners in Europe that the US wasn’t abandoning the region even if it had scrapped plans for radar and rocket installations in the Czech Republic and Poland.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has written an opinion piece in the Sunday edition of the New York Times in which he calls the future of missile defense in Europe “secure”. The article outlines a new direction for the US after earlier plans for an advance radar in the Czech Republic, and interceptor rockets in Poland, were scrapped by the US this week. In the article, Mr Gates contends that the earlier system (aimed at defending against long-range missiles) was suitable but based on earlier technology and threat assessments. In its new plan, the US is hoping to deploy sea-based systems by 2011, followed by ground-based anti-rocket missiles later. In his op-ed, the defense secretary challenged critics who said the US had made a concession to Russia, stressing that Russian opposition to the earlier defence plans had played “no part” in his recommendation to US President Barack Obama.
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