A 21-member Czech patrol came under fire in the province of Logar in Afghanistan on Wednesday, an attack that left a number of their assailants dead and seven Czech soldiers injured, one of them seriously. The Czech convoy came under attack around four kilometres from the Shank base, the same day that the government approved a plan to increase the number of Czech personnel in the Afghan mission in 2009.
The former Czech president Václav Havel has just been awarded the German Point Alpha Prize for his contribution to German, and European, unification. Tuesday’s ceremony did not take place at the usual venue – the former border between East and West Germany – but at the German Embassy in Prague. The embassy itself has also been marking an important chapter in its own history.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama briefly mentioned the Czech Republic along with other eastern European states in Friday’s presidential debate with Republican opponent John McCain. The comments came as the candidates discussed the perceived threat posed by Russia, particularly in light of its recent invasion of Georgia. Addressing the issue, Mr Obama stated that as a NATO country “We also have to affirm all the fledgling democracies in that region…the Estonians, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Poles, the Czechs, that we are, in fact, going to be supportive and in solidarity with them in their efforts.”
Czech president Václav Klaus is to depart for a five day working trip to the US. Among the stops on the official itinerary are Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona. The president will promote an English-language version of his controversial “anti-global-warming” book and also meet with business leaders and politicians during the trip.
Two Czech soldiers, who were injured in Monday’s attack on the Czech Provincial and Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan, arrived in Prague on Wednesday. The rocket attack by Afghan insurgents has been the third since the second army contingentwas deployed in the Afghan province of Logar, and the security situation in Afghanistan is further deteriorating.
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
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