In related news, a Communist MP, Alexandr Cerny, is one of two Czech parliamentarians who have been refused a visa by the US Embassy in Prague for a planned trip by legislators to view the United States' missile defence radar system on the Marshall Islands. The head of the Communist Party Vojtech Filip has said he has sent a written complaint to US Ambassador Richard Graber. But the US Embassy in Prague responded to the news on Friday with an official statement explaining that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs had agreed to provide a final list of participants in time for processing, but that two legislators' names were put forward 24 hours late. Both are from different political parties. In its statement the US Embassy stressed that the processing of US diplomatic visas was "uniform" regardless of "country, nationality, or party affiliation".
The Czech Republic wants the United States to provide stronger security
guarantees and military cooperation in exchange for hosting part of its
missile defence shield, a note sent to the U.S. government said. The
diplomatic note, approved by the Czech government last week and seen by
the Reuters news agency on Wednesday, agrees to start talks with the
Americans over the shield. The United States wants to deploy a radar
system in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland by
2011-12. The note said the Czechs were aware of new threats to their
security, mainly international terrorism, and expected that the United
States would share information on those threats.
Washington says the missile shield system would counter threats from what it calls "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.
The Czech Republic and several other former communist states should
keep pushing for visa-free travel to the United States until they have
it "in black and white", the Czech foreign minister, Karel
Schwarzenberg, said in Germany's Bremen on Saturday. Mr Schwarzenberg
organised a discussion with colleagues from Slovenia, Poland, Hungary,
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia on the sidelines of a meeting of European
Union foreign ministers in the city. Afterwards the eastern European
foreign ministers issued a statement praising the steps taken so far by
Washington to broaden its visa-waiver programme.
Meanwhile, Canada is this month to begin considering whether to allow Czechs visa-free entrance, according to Prague's Canadian Embassy. A spokesperson said Canada would weigh a number of factors, including number of rejected visa applications, security in the Czech Republic and the country's observance of human rights.
President Vaclav Klaus has launched another fierce attack on the green lobby, claiming that "ambitious environmentalism" poses a greater threat to society than communism. His comments came in written answers to a committee meeting being held on Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Czech president said instead of trying to stop climate change, mankind should learn to live with it. Rob Cameron spoke to the head of the Czech branch of Greenpeace, Jiri Tutter, and asked him if he was surprised at Mr Klaus's comments.
Czech president Václav Klaus has responded to questions from American congressmen concerning climate change. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives energy and commerce committee had invited President Klaus to give his views on climate issues such as global warming ahead of a public hearing on the subject on Wednesday. Mr Klaus has repeatedly stated that he does not believe human activity has any major impact on our planet's climate and that environmental campaigners were guided by political not scientific considerations. A spokesman for Mr Klaus told the Czech Press Agency that the president would make his answers public after Wednesday's congress hearing, which should include contributions from former US Vice-President Al Gore among others.
The US Lieutenant General Henry Obering, director of the Missile
Defense Agency, has said the United States is open to European demands
that a missile shield system it plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech
Republic be brought under NATO. Mr Obering said on Thursday he would
not be averse to the shield being integrated into NATO's defensive
The United States says the missile shield is meant to protect Europe and US forces there from missiles fired by what Washington calls "rogue states", such as Iran and North Korea. Senior European officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, have called for the missile defence issue to be debated within the Alliance rather than on a bilateral basis.
The Democratic leader in the United States Senate, Harry Reid, has said his country's visa policy towards the Czech Republic is unjust and serves no purpose, the Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Kolar, said after a meeting between Mr Reid and Czech representatives. The Czech delegation was led by President Vaclav Klaus, who is on a week-long working visit to the US. While Americans do not need a visa to enter the Czech Republic, Czechs have to go through a complicated visa process to visit the US.
President Vaclav Klaus has met with US Vice President Dick Cheney to
discuss the possibility of a US radar base on Czech territory as part
of a broader missile-defense shield. According to reports, the US vice
president assured Mr Klaus that efforts to find consensus on the matter
with Russia were on-going. Russia has come out strongly against the
idea of a US radar base in the Czech Republic complementing an
instillation in Poland housing ten interceptor rockets. The idea of the
system is to prevent potential attacks by rogue states such as Iran or
On Friday Mr Cheney and Mr Klaus also discussed the possibility of lifting visa requirements for Czech citizens.
In related news, after meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Washington on Thursday, Mr Klaus said Mrs Pelosi expressed what he called "evident support" for the lifting of US visa requirements for Czech citizens. Mr Klaus and Mrs Pelosi also discussed US plans to build a radar base in the Czech Republic.
President Vaclav Klaus who is on a working visit to the United States is due to meet the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid on Thursday; the main issue on the agenda should be the US visa requirements for Czech citizens. On Friday, President Klaus is due to meet US Vice-President Dick Cheney to discuss US plans to station a radar base in the Czech Republic.