The early 1960s saw dramatic developments in the Cold War, with the building of the Berlin Wall and then the brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis. But there were also signs of a greater pragmatism in East-West relations. One channel for dialogue was a series of international gatherings, where scholars and public figures discussed how to reduce the risk of armed conflict. These were known as the Pugwash Conferences, named after the town in Canada where the idea was first launched back in 1957. In September 1964, one such conference was held
As of November 17, Czechs traveling to the US will no longer be required to apply for a visa. They will be able to travel on a biometric passport, after filling in an online form known as ESTA or Electronic System of Travel Authorization. Approval by the ESTA system will give Czech citizens unlimited entry to the US over a two year period. The country’s acceptance into the US visa waiver programme will not make any difference to those Czech citizens who already have US visas. Czech and US leaders have greeted the move as a historic step in bilateral relations.
On Monday, the US will no longer require Czech citizens to apply for a visa prior to travel. Interior Minister Ivan Langer and deputy premier Alexander Vondra are set to be among the first to make use of the change in status, according to newspaper reports – even though their diplomatic statues does not require them to possess a visa. From Monday, the requirements for Czechs to enter the US will be the possession of a biometric passport, as well as the filling on of an online form known as ESTA. Approval by the ESTA system would then permit Czech citizens unlimited entry to the US for two years – something which critics describe as a de facto visa system, although proponents point out that the end of long waits at the US embassy are a key advantage of this scheme. Mr Langer and Mr Vondra are set to be onboard the first “non-visa flight” which departs for New York on Monday.
The Czech Republic plans to invite U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to a summit meeting with the 27 EU states in Prague on April 2, the country’s ambassador to the EU Milena Vicenová, said on Thursday. The Czech Republic which takes up the rotating EU presidency on January 1st has said transatlantic relations and improving economic cooperation with the United States would be a priority for the six-month Czech EU presidency. Mr. Obama, who will take office in January, is due to attend a NATO summit in Strasbourg on April 3-5.
The Czech government and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in particular have signaled their intention to invite Barack Obama - the new President-elect of the United States - to the Czech Republic in early 2009. The purpose: to attend an informal EU summit to be held in Prague in the spring. The visit would coincide with the Czech Republic’s term presiding over the EU, which begins on January 1. Dominik Jun spoke to political commentator Erik Best and asked him how important a visit by the newly sworn-in President Barack Obama would be:
Barack Obama has been congratulated on his election victory by President Václav Klaus, opposition Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. But what does Obama's victory mean for the controversial missile defence project, a subject that has so divided Czech politicians? Is the new U.S. president for missile defence, or against?
The US has pledged to provide 600 thousand US dollars in funding so far for three out of eight Czech scientific projects; Henry Obering, the head of the US Missile Defense Agency, made the announcement in Prague on Friday. He stressed it was only the start of future cooperation. The US agreed to finance the projects in connection with the Czech government’s backing of a US radar base on Czech soil - part of a missile defence system planned by the US in central Europe. Eight projects in different fields, submitted by the Czech Academy of Sciences, made the previous shortlist: fields include nanotechnology, robotics, laser technology, among others. Treaties on the US radar base have yet to be approved by the Czech Parliament.
The United States plans to abolish long-standing visa requirements for the Czech Republic on November 17. The plans were announced during a visit by the US Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff to the Czech Republic on Monday. Following Mr Chertoff’s meeting with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, Mr Topolánek announced that the news represented a “big day” for him – visa requirements have long been a sore point of US-Czech relations. Under the new system, which will fully come into effect in January 2009, travellers to the US will have to register online at what is known as the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA system. Critics of the system argue that it is a de-facto visa requirement in that approval to travel must be gained several days before, although no fee is currently charged as is the case with US visas. That said, Czechs may have to pay several hundred crowns, according to Czech media sources.
On November 17, Czech citizens will be able to travel to the United States without visas for the first time ever. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced in Prague on Monday that the Czech Republic, along with several other central and eastern European countries, has been included in the US Visa Waiver Program.