On Tuesday morning, the US President met with his Czech counterpart Vaclav
Klaus and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Speaking to journalists
after the meeting at Prague Castle, Mr Bush said a US plan to build part
of its missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland is a
"purely defensive" measure. He stressed that the defence shield
is not aimed at Russia and that his message to Russian President Vladimir
Putin would be not to fear the missile defence system but rather cooperate
with Washington and send generals and scientists over to see how such a
system would work.
Mr Bush was reacting to warnings from President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that if the American nuclear capability widens across European territory then Russia would give itself new targets in Europe. Mr. Putin acknowledged that Russia's response risked starting an arms race, but he said Moscow would not be responsible for the consequences because Washington had started it.
Police in South Africa are searching for Radovan Krejcir, a fugitive
billionaire wanted by the Czech police. Despite the fact that an Interpol
arrest warrant has been in effect and that the Czech authorities have been
negotiating Mr Krejcir's extradition since his arrest, his lawyers managed
to convince the detention centre to release him. His whereabouts are now
Mr Krejcir, who is wanted for extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder, managed to escape from the Czech Republic during a police raid of his villa in 2005. He moved to the Seychelles, where the authorities refused to extradite him because he had bought Seychelles citizenship. Travelling under a false identity, Mr Krejcir was detained at Johannesburg airport in April.
Besides the Czech head of state and leader of the government, Social Democrat opposition leader Jiri Paroubek also had the chance to discuss foreign policy issues with the US President. According to Mr. Paroubek, the plan to station a radar base in the Czech Republic is the only issue that the two politicians disagree on.
US President George W. Bush criticized Russia and China on democracy at an
international conference in Prague on Tuesday. Speaking to democracy and
human rights activists at the conference named "Democracy and
Security: Core Values and Sound Policies, he said that the "reforms
in Russia that once promised to empower citizens have been derailed with
troubling implications for democratic development". In China, the US
President said, "leaders believe that they can continue to open the
nation's economy without also opening its political system".
US President George W. Bush arrived in Prague for a one-day visit on Monday evening. He left for Germany on Tuesday evening, where he is scheduled to attend is the G8 summit and meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday.
Ivo Velisek, head of Prague Castle Administration, collaborated with the former communist secret police, the daily Pravo writes in its Tuesday edition. The paper says it has 1980s archive documents in which Mr Velisek is registered in the category of "confidential aides" with the cover name Obchodnik (Businessman). Mr Velisek allegedly reported on people from his surroundings, including Charter 77 signatories and the communist secret police assessed the two-year cooperation with him as "useful". Pravo writes that after 1989 Mr Velisek submitted a negative screening certificate and passed a security vetting that enabled him to take up his current post.
At Prague Castle, US President Bush also discussed Washington's visa policy and pledged to work with Congress to waive the visa requirement for Czechs. While US citizens do not need a visa to visit the Czech Republic, the visa-free policy is not reciprocal. Following the meeting with Mr Bush, Prime Minister Topolanek told journalists that the visa requirement is unjust and should be abolished.
The leading Czech women's tennis player Nicole Vaidisova has been knocked out of the French Open. The 18-year-old was beaten 3:6, 5:7 by Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in the quarter finals at Roland Garros on Tuesday. Vaidisova, who managed to reach the semi-finals last year, was the last Czech player left in the competition this year.
Emergency workers and fire fighters in the Prstne district of the Moravian town of Zlin are busy clearing flood damage after the dike of a nearby pond broke. A fire fighter spokesperson has reported that the devastation is immense as the area was suddenly hit by a strong wave. Several houses are flooded and some roads are also damaged. The dike was recently repaired but burst due to high water pressure caused by repeated rain.
Russia has warned it would once again aim its missiles at targets in Europe if the Czech Republic and Poland should agree to host a US radar base and interceptor missiles on their territory. President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying on Sunday that if the American nuclear capability widens across European territory then Russia would give itself new targets in Europe. Mr. Putin acknowledged that Russia's response risked starting an arms race, but he said Moscow would not be responsible for the consequences because Washington had started it.
Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia have threatened to renew blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings if their government does not get tough with Prague. The anti-nuclear activists want the Austrian government to take the Czech Republic to court over the alleged violation of the so-called Melk agreement on nuclear safety. The Czech Republic officially protested against the continuing blockades a few weeks ago, and Austria promised to secure free movement of people and goods across the border. Vienna recently commissioned a legal study to ascertain what its chances would be if it sued the Czech Republic at an international court over the Temelin nuclear power plant. The verdict was that Austria would have practically no chance of winning such a case.