An agreement between the Czech Republic and the United States on the deployment of a tracking radar on Czech territory, part of an American anti-missile defence system, could soon be concluded. A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that a final deal could be struck within weeks. Czech officials have been more careful to set a date: the Foreign Ministry expects negotiations with the US to be finalized before a NATO summit in Bucharest in early April.
Both sides of the missile defence debate wheeled out their big guns in Prague this week, and for the “anti” camp the secret weapon is Philip Coyle, one of America’s leading experts on missile defence technology. Mr Coyle, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and was in charge of all weapons testing at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001, has worked on missiles and how to stop them for the last 40 years. Today he’s a senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Defence Information, and is a leading opponent
Talks between Prague and Washington on the possible stationing of a US radar base on Czech territory acquired a new dimension on Wednesday. The director of the US Missile Defense Agency Henry Obering arrived in Prague flanked by a group of American defense industry business leaders to discuss the possible commercial and scientific benefits for Czech firms if the country agreed to participate in the US missile defense project.
It’s not the first place you might imagine a record-launch, but on Thursday evening, the Czech Embassy in London played host to the band British Sea Power - and provided a venue for the launch of their new single, Waving Flags. Before the concert on Thursday, I called the band’s lead singer, Scott Wilkinson, to ask about his choice of venue:
Poland’s new prime minister Donald Tusk arrived in Prague on Thursday for talks with his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek, and top of the agenda was the planned U.S. missile defence shield. Washington wants to build a launching pad for ten interceptor missiles in Poland, to work in tandem with an early warning radar system across the border in the Czech Republic. But Mr Tusk is not as fervently pro-American as his predecessor Jaroslaw Kacynski, and Prague and Warsaw are beginning to look slightly out of step on missile defence.
The Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will make a one-day official visit to the Czech Republic on Thursday, during which he will meet with Czech President Václav Klaus and PM Mirek Topolánek. Mr Tusk wants to cultivate relations with his neighbours, and this visit follows a meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel and president Horst Kohler in Berlin last month. The proposed US radar base to be stationed on Czech and Polish soil is expected to be high on the agenda of the Czech-Polish talks.
The Czech Republic has outlined several foreign policy priorities for its EU presidency in 2009. Among those highlighted are the Union’s relations with the Balkan states. As Czechs see it, the EUs visa policy for the Balkans and other Eastern European countries should be softened, and if the Czech government's ambitious plan succeeds, the Czech EU presidency should also see Croatia a new member state of the European Union.
The Serbian province of Kosovo is expected to declare independence from Serbia early this year. The Czech foreign policy on this hot issue has been following the moderate attitude of the European Union calling for an agreement between the Serbian government and Kosovo’s Albanian majority. But the lower house of the Czech Parliament might push for a change in the Czech stance. An opposition MP wants a resolution passed denouncing a unilateral declaration of independence for Kosovo.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was on an official visit to Vienna on Monday to meet with Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer for a day of talks that included discussions on the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant and the upcoming EU presidencies. But it was the recent enlargement of the EU’s Schengen zone that was arguably the most dominant. Since the relaxation of border controls last month Austria has seen a rapid new influx of illegal migrants and on Monday both Czech and Austrian representatives pledged that more would be done to
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