The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, says the best advertising campaign for a planned US radar base has been the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia. He made the comment in response to a question about the effectiveness of an official government campaign to win support for the radar, which the Americans plan to build in central Bohemia. Mr Topolánek’s words seem to contradict official Czech policy that the building of the radar base – part of a US global anti-missile defence system – is not linked to Russia, but to states such as Iran. Prague has signed the main treaty on the base with Washington and is expected to conclude a supplementary treaty this month. The Czech Parliament is then expected to vote on the matter later this year.
The first monies connected to the placement of the proposed US radar base on Czech soil may arrive by September, according to the Czech Technical Institute. The payments are related to the deal signed between the US and Czech Republic during the summer, which stipulates that the US side will work closely with the Czech scientific community in various technology-related projects. This agreement means that the Czech Republic will have a favourable climate in which to introduce or sell Czech-developed technology to the US. For its part, the US will invest in projects which it deems of interest. One such project which has recently hit the headlines is a special drone pilot system, which does not require a human pilot.
A deal on the conditions under which US soldiers would operate at a radar base in the Czech Republic is very close and should be completed next month, the Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanová, said after talks with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek on Thursday. Mr Topolánek told reporters the status of forces agreement should then be discussed by the Czech Parliament in October. Czech legislators are set to vote on both it and the main treaty on the US radar by the end of this year. In July Prague and Washington signed the main treaty on the radar base, which will be part of an American anti-missile defence shield.
The Czech Republic and the United States have reached agreement on the conditions to set up a US anti-missile base in the country, a defence ministry spokesman has said. Andrej Čírtek told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that all major issues had been solved, adding the Czech government could be expected to discuss the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in September. A key follow-up agreement, it had been held up by a wrangle between Prague and Washington over taxes. Mr Čírtek said that that issue had now been solved, but did not provide details. Sealing the SOFA agreement paves the way for the Czech government to seek parliamentary approval for the US anti-missile package. The main deal on the base was signed back in July by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has welcomed a US-Polish agreement to station elements of a US missile defence shield on Polish soil. The site in Poland hosting ten interceptor rockets and a tracking radar in the Czech Republic will form the European part of a global system Washington says it is assembling to shoot down ballistic missiles it fears could be launched by "rogue" states or militant groups such as al-Qaeda. The Czech government agreed earlier this year to host the US tracking radar on Czech soil. However public opinion is against the radar and the agreement still needs to be approved by Parliament.
On Tuesday, a special NATO summit designed to address the current crisis in Georgia, concluded with strong statements directed towards Russia. The current crisis appears to have solidified concerns that Russia is becoming a potentially dangerous re-emerging power. Eastern European countries, wary of past experiences have been particularly tough in their rhetoric against Russia, and now, a controversial defence shield located in Poland and the Czech Republic seems more certain as a result of the conflict. Dominik Jun spoke with Oldřich Bureš, a
The Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has called the Russian invasion of Georgia a violation of international law. The comments came as he attended an emergency summit of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels designed to address the current crisis in Georgia. The Czech Foreign Minister also pledged to persuade the Czech government to provide 150 million crowns in aid for Georgia. The US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also attended the summit, pressing European countries to adopt a tougher line against Russia. One proposed measure was freezing the six-year-old NATO-Russia Council, which unites 27 governments for discussions about issues such as international security and counter-terrorism. However, members at today’s meeting pulled in various directions – with some favouring a tougher line, while others urging caution against “knee-jerk” reactions. The Czech Republic is believed to favour a tougher line against Russia. Following the meeting, Condoleezza Rice is set to visit Warsaw to sign a missile-defence agreement with that country – a move which Russia believes is a deliberate provocation.
Several of Josef Koudelka’s 1968 photos are being shown at the Mánes gallery, by the River Vltava, in a new exhibition entitled 1945 – Liberation, 1968 – Occupation. Two rooms of iconic black and white photographs show two very different sets of images: the Red Army greeted with smiles and flowers in May 1945, and Russian soldiers berated by angry crowds in August 1968. So how do the people looking at these images feel about today's Russia, especially in the light of the current situation in Georgia?
The fighting over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, and the fragile ceasefire which Georgians claim is repeatedly violated by Russian troops, has raised fears of a prolonged conflict between Moscow and the pro-Western, ex-Soviet state. And, on a broader scale, it has fuelled speculation about how Russia’s military offensive into South Ossetia could affect international relations, the balance of power in Europe and plans to expand NATO and the EU. Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova is head of the Security Policy Department at the Czech
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