Municipalities situated near existing NATO radars in Chlumec nad Cidlinou and Slavkov, south Moravia, will ask the government for financial compensation as well as information about the radars' possible impact on the public's health. The mayor of Chlumec nad Cidlinou announced the initiative on Friday but said that 14 municipalities in the vicinity of Chlumec and ten municipalities in the area of Slavkov had not yet agreed on specific financial demands. The construction of the NATO radar near Chlumec began in 2004, with the radar going into operation in 2007. The radar at Slavkov was completed at the end of 2007.
Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek, is flying to Moscow today along with several other key members of his party. On the agenda will be the proposed US missile defence system in central Europe, which both Russia and the Social Democrats oppose. But the Czech government is in favour of the country hosting a US radar base, and has accused the opposition Social Democrats of pursuing a potentially damaging alternative foreign policy.
Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has come out strongly against plans by the US to site a radar base in the Czech Republic – as part of a broader missile defense system in Europe. In an interview for public broadcaster Czech TV on Monday, the former Soviet leader questioned the system was being planned against rogue states like Iran, saying on the contrary it was aimed against Russia and China. His views contrasted those of former Czech president Václav Havel who appeared on the same show. He defended the project – calling it a “first chance”
Ceremonies have been held at most of the military bases in the Czech Republic to mark the ninth anniversary of the country joining NATO. The Czech Army has undergone significant reform since the country became a member of NATO in March 1999, with the biggest single change the ending of compulsory military service and the creation of a fully professional army.
The opposition Social Democrats have stepped up their opposition to the US radar base. The party leadership is planning a nation-wide petition against the base and the party will hold a second internal party referendum on the issue in the spring. The vast majority of Social Democrats were opposed to the radar base in the first internal party referendum held recently. Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek last week warned party deputies that those who choose to ignore the official party line when Parliament votes on the matter could find themselves off the list of candidates when the next general election comes around.
A deal between Prague and Washington on the siting of a US radar base on Czech territory could be concluded in the spring, Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová told reporters at the end of a fifth round of talks on the radar this week. The latest round of talks focused on conditions governing the presence of US soldiers at the radar base. The Czech government is pushing ahead with the negotiations despite criticism from opposition parties and the public. Public opinion surveys suggest that around 70 percent of Czechs are opposed to the base.
A new round of Czech-U.S. talks on siting an American radar base on Czech
territory is underway in Prague. Czech and American officials are hoping
finalize a Status of Forces Agreement concerning the stationing of U.S.
military personnel in the Czech Republic. European Affairs Minister
Alexandr Vondra said that one of the last open issues – criminal
liability of U.S. troops under Czech Law – could be concluded by the end
of the week.
The United States is planning to position a tracking radar base in the Czech Republic and intercepting missiles in Poland as parts of its anti-missile defence shield. The plans have little support by the public and have been criticized by Russia, Slovakia and other countries.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, issued a stern warning to his 71 MPs on Wednesday – vote in favour of the plan to allow a U.S. radar base on Czech territory, and you could find yourself off the list of candidates when the next election comes around. A vote on the issue is not due for several months, but Czech supporters and opponents of missile defence are already marshalling their forces for what looks to be a tough battle.
Jiří Paroubek, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats has announced that he wants his party to conduct an internal referendum on whether to approve the placement of a US military radar base on Czech soil. The comments came after Mr Paroubek concluded a meeting with members of the anti-radar civic group Ne základnám or No Bases. He also added that any Social Democrat MP in favour of the base should not run as a Social Democrat party member in future general elections. The referendum is set to extend to the entire party membership and reflects a growing opposition to the base by the Social Democratic party, which is also set to attend a protest against the radar organized by Ne základnám on 15 March.
U.S. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday that his country was
“very close” to signing an agreement with the Czech Republic on
building g an American radar base in central Bohemia. Mr Bush’s remarks
came after a meeting with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in
Washington. Mr Topolánek said that only minor details needed to be sorted
out and that negotiations on the issue would be concluded very shortly.
Both President Bush and Prime Minister Topolánek rejected Moscow’s
claims that the U.S. anti-missile shield in Central Europe was to be used
against Russia. Mr Bush said that the system was meant to address potential
threats coming from countries run by extremist ideologies.
For his part, Prime Minister Topolánek said that Czech-U.S. relations would be elevated to the level of ‘strategic dialogue’, similar to that between the United States and Great Britain. This will involve the exchange of sensitive information as well as regular meetings of the countries’ top officials and expert teams.
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