Whether or not a radar station will be built on Czech territory is entirely up to Prague and Washington, British Secretary for Europe Geoff Hoon said on Wednesday. On his visit to the Czech Republic, he added though that the station should also serve to protect local residents. An official request to host the radar station as part of a US missile defence plan was issued late last year. The ruling coalition Green Party but also Germany, for example, say such a site should only be built if it is also part of NATO's defence system. Following talks with Mr Hoon, Czech deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said a Czech delegation would visit the Filingdales radar site in England.
Police in the United States have detained 36-year-old Czech businessman Vit Studlar who was convicted of embezzlement in the Czech Republic but went missing in 2005 before he was to start serving his seven-year prison sentence, the Czech daily Pravo writes. Mr Studlar is to be deported from the United States to the Czech Republic next week and escorted to prison. Mr Studlar who worked in the used car business was found guilty of cheating his customers out of 19 million crowns (890,000 US dollars).
The United States Senate has opened a debate on whether to drop a visa requirement for visitors from the Czech Republic, Hospodarske noviny reported. A previous US insistence that a country not have more than three percent visa rejections has been replaced by other security demands, such as bio-metric passports, the paper said. A representative of the Czech Embassy in Washington, Jaroslav Kurfurst, said that while the Czech Republic had not yet won the war, a significant battle had been won on the road to visa free travel to the US.
President Klaus is to visit the United States in March to discuss the possible deployment of a US radar base on Czech territory. According to Thursday's edition of Mlada Fronta Dnes the Czech president will meet with US Vice-President Dick Cheney to discuss the conditions of such a deal. Unlike Poland, the Czech Republic has not yet raised any conditions in connection with the radar base and talks are expected to last until the end of the year. Critics of the US plan emphasize the fact that the American missile defence system in central Europe would not adequately address Europe's defence needs.
On Monday, when Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek met with Polish counterpart Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Warsaw as part of a two-day official visit, it was no surprise that a proposed US missile defence system in Europe topped the leaders' discussion list. The US has asked the Czech Republic and Poland to respectively host radar and rocket bases on their territory as part of an anti-missile shield designed to prevent potential missile attacks by Iran or North Korea. On Monday, both Mr Topolanek and Mr Kaczynski made it clear that they were in favour of
Jirina Zizkovska LaVine recently received the Czernin Palace Memorial Bronze Medal. Every year the Czech ambassador to the United States confers the prize on an individual or body that has made significant contributions to fostering Czech-US relations. Mrs Lavine, who is 82, was actually presented with the award by the Czech consul in Kansas City, where she has lived since leaving Czechoslovakia over five decades ago. On the phone from there, she told me a little about how she began promoting Czech culture in local schools.
President Klaus has sent a letter of condolence to the widow of the late US president Gerald Ford. Mr. Klaus wrote that Gerald Ford was an exceptional politician with great foresight and that it had been an honor to meet with him in person. Mr. Klaus praised the late president's contribution to the fall of communism, saying that Gerald Ford started the work that Ronald Reagan later brought to a successful conclusion. His work had a fundamental impact on freedom in central and Eastern Europe and contributed to the fact that the Czech Republic and the United States are close allies today, President Klaus wrote.
Numerous newspapers and magazines serve the Czech community in the United States, from "nationwide" publications such as Americke listy to regional titles like Czech Nebraska. There are also several internet websites and email newsletters, such as the weekly Dumpling News; it is produced by Zora Pergl, a woman of Czech descent based in Florida. I asked her how Dumpling News has been received since its launch in April last year.
The American Center in Prague has a new home: the Wratislavsky Palace in Prague's Mala Strana district. The Center is the cultural and educational arm of the US Embassy, and has had many addresses over the years. The new location, embassy staff hope, will be the Center's home for many years to come.
Last week United States President George W. Bush announced plans to modify his nation's visa waiver program to raise the number of countries whose citizens can enter the U.S. without a visa. The announcement was made during a trip to Estonia, and was received by Czechs with great interest, as the Czech Republic is one country that could stand to benefit from a change in U.S. visa policy. Because U.S. citizens are allowed to enter the Czech Republic for a short period without a visa, but Czechs are unable to do the same, it is an issue that festers
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