The Czech government approved the second of two agreements on Wednesday on the stationing of an American radar base on Czech soil, as part of the planned U.S. missile defence shield. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová told reporters the agreement would be signed by her American counterpart on September 19th in London. Once that happens, the only thing standing in the way of the radar base would be approval by the Czech parliament. But as Rob Cameron reports, that remains a considerable obstacle.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, attending a meeting of EU foreign ministers into the weekend, addressed the conflict in Georgia on Friday by saying Russia needed to understand it had hurt its own interests by intervening militarily in the country. Mr Schwarzenberg said he discussed the issue with his French and Swedish counterparts, Bernard Kouchner and Carl Bildt ahead of further talks. France, the Czech Republic and Sweden follow each other in holding the EU presidency from now through 2009. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to go to Moscow on Monday and call on Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia, a move Mr Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic strongly supported. On Saturday, EU ministers have been scheduled to discuss a joint strategy in connection with the EU-Russia summit on November 14. The focus is also on humanitarian aid to Georgia and reconstruction.
On Tuesday, a special NATO summit designed to address the current crisis in Georgia, concluded with strong statements directed towards Russia. The current crisis appears to have solidified concerns that Russia is becoming a potentially dangerous re-emerging power. Eastern European countries, wary of past experiences have been particularly tough in their rhetoric against Russia, and now, a controversial defence shield located in Poland and the Czech Republic seems more certain as a result of the conflict. Dominik Jun spoke with Oldřich Bureš, a
The recent conflict in Georgia came at an unfortunate time for Russia - the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Indeed, such comparisons have been banded about both by politicians and NGOs critical of Russia’s actions against Georgia. But it is in the Czech Republic that such metaphors have been heard the loudest in recent days. George Archemasheili is a senior counselor to the Georgian Ambassador in Prague. We asked him how he viewed the Czech reaction to the events taking place in Georgia:
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is set to meet with his Kosovar counterpart Skender Hyseni next Friday. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the announcement to journalists, but would not disclose any details of the visit. Mr Skender Hyseni is also scheduled to meet other members of the cabinet as well as representatives of the lower house and the senate. It is the first official visit by a politician of the independent Republic of Kosovo to the Czech Republic. The Kosovar foreign minister was invited to Prague by Mr Schwarzenberg. The Czech Republic recognized Kosovo’s independence in May and one month ago opened an embassy in the capital Pristina.
"This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbours, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it. Things have changed," US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of her trip to Georgia. She is not the only politician to have drawn that comparison. In an exclusive interview for Czech Radio on Thursday President Klaus publicly rejected it, saying that both sides were equally to blame in the conflict over South Ossetia.
The fighting over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, and the fragile ceasefire which Georgians claim is repeatedly violated by Russian troops, has raised fears of a prolonged conflict between Moscow and the pro-Western, ex-Soviet state. And, on a broader scale, it has fuelled speculation about how Russia’s military offensive into South Ossetia could affect international relations, the balance of power in Europe and plans to expand NATO and the EU. Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova is head of the Security Policy Department at the Czech
The conflict between Russia and Georgia continued on Monday, as both sides accused each other of launching new military attacks and western diplomats scrambled to negotiate a ceasefire. All eyes were meant to be on Beijing and the Olympic Games this August, but it’s the Caucuses that have grabbed the world’s attention, and the Czech Republic is no exception.