An "early warning centre" that the US is aiming to build on
would be part of a NATO missile defence system, Czech Prime Minister Petr
Nečas said on Friday. Washington and Prague are discussing the creation
such a facility, which Mr Nečas said would be run by Czechs, doing away
with the need for a bilateral treaty. He said it would collate satellite
information about rockets aimed at NATO states, and would be more
and administrative than military in nature. Mr Nečas said the US was
proposing to put around USD 2 million into the project in 2011 and 2012.
President Barack Obama last year announced the dropping of plans for an American anti-missile shield that would have included a radar base in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is likely to host part of the US anti-missile defence shield in Europe. The American administration has officially asked the US Congress to fund the early warning program. Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas confirmed the news on Friday, saying that the new centre could be positioned in Prague or in its vicinity. If approved, the project could be launched before the end of the year.
The chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, is in Prague for talks with the Czech president and other officials. Admiral Di Paola is scheduled to meet with Czech President Václav Klaus, the new defence minister, Alexandr Vondra, and the chief of general staff, Vlastimil Picek. The officials will talk about Czech participation in NATO’s foreign missions.
The head of NATO’s Military Committee, the alliance’s top military decision making organ, will visit Prague at the end of the week. General Gianpaolo Di Paola is scheduled to meet with the head of the Czech general staff, Vlastimil Picek, on Thursday. The main point is likely to be Czech participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The former Czech government promised to increase its contribution but was prevented from doing this by opposition in the lower house of parliament. Meetings are also due to take place with President Václav Klaus and the minister of defence.
In 2004 Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda made a big splash with Český Sen, or Czech Dream, about a hoax they pulled on shoppers in Prague, using a big advertising campaign to draw them to a non-existent hypermarket. The documentary, originally their final project at film school, received a good deal of international attention for the way it raised questions about consumerism in a post-communist society.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Sunday that the Czech Republic was in talks about possibly hosting a command and control centre for a future NATO missile defence system in the country. Mr Kohout said in a television interview on Sunday that talks had been opened with the US about such a possibility. The idea of radar or interceptor missiles being sited in the Czech Republic had not been broached, he added. Their location would be the subject for future discussions once the architecture of a new anti-missile system was better established, he said. The US announced at the end of last year that it had dropped plans for developing an anti-missile defence system bilaterally with the Czech Republic and Poland. The plans had been fiercely opposed by Russia. But Washington still wants to proceed with a NATO system for Europe.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, says his country wants to play an active role in deciding the future direction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. He made the comments in Washington on Wednesday after talks with the Czech-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who is heading a committee drafting a new NATO mission statement that will be presented to the alliance’s head Anders Fogh Rasmussen by the end of this month. Mr Fischer called on Mr Rasmussen to ensure that the debate on NATO’s future involved all its members, adding that the Czechs wanted to and were prepared to take a proactive role in the process. The Czech Republic became a member of NATO in 1999.
Czech soldiers will be helping to provide security in Estonia on the occasion of an informal meeting of NATO member states’ foreign ministers. The 22 Czech soldiers, who are all members of the army’s biological and nuclear specialists unit, will be traveling to Estonia on Sunday, ahead of the summit which is to take place in Tallinn on April 22 and 23. The Czech experts will be checking the location of the NATO meeting for poisonous and nuclear substances. In the past, Czech soldiers have worked in security and anti-terrorism units at numerous international events, such as the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 and NATO summits across Europe.
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.
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