The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek promised in Brussels on Tuesday that his country would not block talks on reviving a constitution for the European Union. Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, wants to get a new constitution approved in time for the next round of elections to the European Parliament in 2009. The Germans certainly have their work cut out - countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Britain are not keen on reviving the project, which was torpedoed by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Zuzana
The head of the U.S. Missile Defence Agency was in Brussels this week to argue the case for placing part of its missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Lieutenant General Henry Obering said the U.S. would press ahead with the plan, with or without the approval of America's NATO allies. The Czech government has said yes in theory to hosting a radar station about 70 km from Prague, and the two sides are about to embark on detailed talks on what is becoming a highly divisive issue. We spoke to U.S. ambassador Richard Graber.
There was a huge development in a scandal surrounding a large military contract on Tuesday, when Swedish TV broadcast secretly made recordings of former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan. He says that Czech politicians took bribes linked to a deal to purchase Gripen supersonic jets from the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems/Saab. In the end the Czech Republic leased rather than bought the planes, but the allegations remain. And suspicions of corruption have been fanned by Mr Kavan's implication that a Czech police investigation could be
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
President Vaclav Klaus and his wife Livia have just ended a four day official visit to Japan. The presidential couple had a packed agenda and did not break their pace even when the president's aircraft failed to take off on a planned flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Although the unexpected technical failure necessitated a last-minute change of plans - it did not detract from the overall success of the Japanese visit.
Echoes of the cold war: that is how some observers characterised Russian President Vladimir Putin recent reaction to US plans to expand its missile defence system in Europe. At a conference in Munich Mr Putin attacked the idea of the missile defence system (which includes a proposed interceptor rocket base in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic), saying such a move could not go unanswered. But what kind of answer might we see?
Two weeks after the United States officially petitioned the Czech Republic for authorisation to operate a radar base in the country, the matter continues to make headlines. The domestic political scene is divided on the issue. While the governing Civic and Christian Democrats say they support the plan, the opposition Communists and Social Democrats are demanding a referendum on the issue.
Although talks on a possible US anti-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland have barely begun the idea has already met with plenty of controversy. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week slammed the plan as an attempt to change the strategic balance in Europe, saying that Russia would come up with a "highly effective" response. Many Czechs consider it a threat to national security and some EU members have unofficially criticized the fact that the US missile base would be part of a bilateral defense agreement. Czech MEP Libor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a brief visit to the Czech Republic on Friday to discuss the future of the EU constitution and other issues with Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek and president Vaclav Klaus. The German Chancellor's visit also coincided with the tenth anniversary of the so-called Czech-German Declaration. This document was signed in Prague ten years ago this week and was drafted to help lay the foundation for modern German-Czech relations.
With a new government finally in office, the focus has shifted from the country's political crisis to key foreign policy issues. In the coming months the Czech leadership will have to decide about hosting a US radar-base on its territory, consolidate its stand with regard to the EU constitution and start preparing for the country's EU presidency in 2009. The government's foreign policy team is now bigger than ever and on Tuesday President Klaus invited three government ministers to Prague Castle for some foreign-policy fine tuning.
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