At midnight on Monday, protesters Jan Tamáš and Jan Bednář will suspend their three week hunger strike over the government’s plans to allow a US anti-missile radar base into the country. Their cause has received international publicity and sparked controversy in Prague where some politicians have called them blackmailers, while others have offered to take up their cause. On Monday Dominik Jůn caught up with a clearly malnourished Jan Tamáš to find out how he felt and whether the protest had had the desired result.
The Czech Republic has become the 20th country of the European Union to recognize independent Kosovo. When the decision was announced last week, it was criticized by some Czech politicians who claimed the government of the former Serbian province has not yet fully shown its commitment to upholding democratic principles and protecting Kosovo’s religious and ethnic minorities. Radio Prague asked the head of the Czech Liaison Office in Pristina Janina Hřebíčková what the situation in Kosovo was like at the moment.
The Czech Republic inches ever closer to January 1st, 2009, when – for the first time – it will take the helm of the European Union. The agenda for the EU presidency over the next eighteen months will be shared between France, the Czech Republic and Sweden, and the deputy minister for European affairs Alexandr Vondra is hosting his French and Swedish colleagues this week to put the finishing touches to a 70-page document setting out EU policy.
The Czech government is working on a proposal that will give Poland back the land it was stripped of in the 1950s, at the order of the Soviet leadership. While the territory to be returned to the Czech Republic’s northern neighbour is very small and Polish claims are not disputed, some mayors that will be affected by the settlement hope their own interests will also be taken into account.
On Wednesday the government approved a treaty between the Czech Republic and the US on the deployment of an American radar base on Czech territory. The treaty, to be signed later this summer, sets the ground for a planned US missile defence system in Europe, including not only the radar in the Czech Republic but also interceptor rockets in Poland. But reaching agreement with the US is only the first step. The coalition will next have to push the treaty through Parliament and there is every indication that it won’t have it easy.
On Wednesday, the Czech government officially recognised Kosovo’s independence and said it planned to establish diplomatic relations with Pristina. The Czech Republic now joins a long line of EU member states to have acknowledged the former Serbian province’s independence, but the move has not been without controversy.
The Czech and American governments have reached a deal under which a US radar base would be based in central Bohemia. With most Czechs opposed to the project, Prague’s American Center, part of the U.S. Embassy, has launched a photo exhibition entitled “Life with the Radar”. It documents life on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, which hosts the radar facility that could one day be moved to the Czech Republic. Radio Prague talked to Miroslav Konvalina, the head of the American Center and a former Czech Radio correspondent in the United
Czechs who do a lot of travelling around Europe had reason to celebrate in December when their country finally joined the Schengen border-free zone, a move that promised to bring Czech citizens freedom of movement and end the tedious passport controls at many European borders. But things have not turned out quite as expected. Although the checkpoints were removed, the traffic police in neighbouring Austria and Germany are reportedly targeting Czech drivers in the border areas, subjecting them to thorough inspections for no apparent reason. So,
The world media descended upon Moscow on Wednesday where Dmitry Medvedev was sworn in as Russia’s third president since the collapse of the Soviet Union. His predecessor, Vladimir Putin will become prime minister and is expected to retain a tight grip on the political scene. The change-of-guard comes at a time of heightened friction over Washington’s missile defense plans for Central Europe and has raised questions regarding Moscow’s future foreign policy. Daniela Lazarova spoke to Oldřich Bureš, an expert on Czech-Russian relations about the possible
Prague’s Foreign Ministry played host to a conference on missile defence on Monday, with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer among the guest speakers. The conference was organised to look at what lies ahead for plans to build a U.S. radar tracking facility on Czech soil after NATO gave the project a cautious endorsement at its recent summit in Bucharest.
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