Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said he expected a new anti-missile defence shield in Europe to be a NATO project with Russia invited to take part. His comments came following a longer than expected meeting on Thursday with his US counterpart Hilary Clinton. Mr. Kohout said the Czech Republic was interested in taking part in an anti-missile shield but would have to wait for a new government following elections at the end for a clear stance on how this could happen. He added that it was important for Prague that NATO gave priority to the project. The two foreign ministers also discussed Czech involvement in Afghanistan and the chances of increasing the existing Czech contingent by another 55 from the current 535. That increase has not so far been cleared by parliament.
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark nuclear arms control deal in Prague on Thursday. The new START treaty, which took nearly a year to negotiate, will reduce the two countries’ nuclear arsenals by roughly 30 percent more than the previous deal. Both leaders also said they hoped the treaty would pave the way for further weapons cuts.
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are set to sign a landmark nuclear arms control treaty in the Czech capital on Thursday. But some Czechs are concerned that Barack Obama’s effort to engage Russia could undermine the security of their own country. Radio Prague spoke to Daniel Anýž, a foreign policy commentator for a leading Czech daily, Hospodářské noviny, and asked him whether he thought these concerns were justified.
Czech President Václav Klaus met NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, at Prague Castle on Tuesday. Their talks were dominated by the issue of the Czech Republic’s military presence in Afghanistan, with Admiral Stavridis reiterating NATO’s request for more soldiers to be sent. The Czech Parliament is set to vote on a proposal to increase the number of Czech soldiers there by around 10 percent. However, the planned troop increase could be blocked by the left-wing parties in the lower house. There are currently 535 Czech troops in Afghanistan; the government wants to send 55 more.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers discussed a number of topics in the Czech town of Sezimovo Ústí on Tuesday. Among the main items on the agenda of talks between Jan Fischer and Robert Fico was energy security, in particular the planned completion of a nuclear power station at Jaslovské Bohunice in Slovakia. The two leaders also spoke about road and motorway construction, and their states working together in the European Union and NATO. Mr Fico said relations between Slovaks and Czechs were better than they had been when the two nations were part of one country.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, met
the chief of Czech general staff, General Vlastimil Picek, on Monday to
discuss ways the Czech Republic can participate in the training of Afghan
security forces even if the Czech Parliament does not approve a planned
increase of Czech troops in that country. Admiral Stavridis said NATO
needed more Czech instructors to train the Afghan army and police as part
of NATO’s ISAF mission. During his two-day visit to the Czech Republic,
Admiral Stavridis will also meet President Václav Klaus and Prime
The Czech Republic has over 500 soldiers serving in Afghanistan, while this year the government is planning to send an additional 55 Czech troops. However, these plans have been opposed by the left-wing majority in Parliament.
In two weeks’ time, news crews from around the world are set to descend on the Czech capital for the signing of an important deal between the United States and Russia on reducing their nuclear arsenals. The planned summit comes a year after America’s president, Barack Obama, outlined his policy on arms control in a major speech at Prague Castle.
President Václav Klaus on Monday met with Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Defense Minister Martin Barták to discuss a possible increase of Czech troops in Afghanistan and organizational changes to the army ensuing from budget cuts. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen last week urged the Czech Republic to increase its presence in Afghanistan by 51 solders who would provide helicopter training and operate two clinics. Although the Czech government has already approved the increase, the plan is likely to meet with opposition in Parliament where left-wing parties are planning to reject it. The Czech Republic currently has over 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, serving on the provincial reconstruction team in Logar.
The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has asked for increased Czech involvement in Afghanistan. He made the appeal after meeting with Czech politicians on Friday, including the country’s prime minister, Jan Fischer, and the heads of the two largest political parties, the Civic and Social Democrats. In a statement on Friday afternoon, NATO’s secretary general asked for more military training specialists as well as aid in the form of two medical clinics, but also made clear those were only part of the equation, stressing that NATO required an increase in Czech troops to take part in missions. Currently, the country has more than 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, but the government has planned to send an additional 55 troops: 15 military police to train local personnel, and 40 soldiers and two artillery hunting radars to help defend Polish bases in the province of Ghazni. The increase in troop levels was backed by Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek on Friday, but Jiří Paroubek's Social Democrats remain opposed to the plan. It remains unclear whether the plan will be able to pass in Parliament.
NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is in the Czech Republic for a two-day visit, primarily to drum up support for a heightened Czech military presence in Afghanistan. On Friday, Mr Rasmuseen met with the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer, whose government has already approved an increase of Czech troops in the war-ridden country. But the decision has yet to be sanctioned by the Czech Parliament, and NATO’s Secretary General is later scheduled to meet with party leaders to try to win their support for the plan.
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