NATO Days, an air show featuring military aircraft and vehicles from nine countries, took place at the international Leoš Janáček Airport in Ostrava, north Moravia, on Saturday. The show presented one of the world’s largest aircraft, Ukraine’s Antonov A-124 Ruslan, as well as the Eurofighter, the British early warning planes AWACS and the Spanish acrobats Patrulla Aquila. Around 40,000 people attended the air show.
The Status of Forces Agreement laying down the conditions for US soldiers living and working at a planned radar base on Czech soil will be signed in London on Friday. Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will sign the SOFA agreement together with a declaration of strategic cooperation. The agreement completes an initial deal Prague and Washington signed in July to base a powerful radar system in the Czech Republic to support a battery of 10 interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland. The treaties between Prague and Washington still need to be ratified by the Czech Parliament.
Today in Mailbox: Czechoslovakia, Czech Republic or Czechia – what’s in a name?; response to a recent Letter from Prague; the proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic; how to access the Archive of Czech Security Forces. Listeners quoted: Stefan Lager, Aloisie Krasny, Táňa Ferus, Ragnar, Lynda-Marie Hauptman.
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.
In related news, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova has said that the Czech Lower House should start debating next month whether to station a US anti-missile defence shield on Czech soil. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has already signed an agreement with American Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice approving the project, but this agreement needs to be ratified by the Czech parliament before construction can actually start. Plans to build a US radar base in the Czech Republic are controversial, with over 50 percent of Czechs against the idea. In parliament, the government can expect a hard time pushing the treaty through, with some of its own coalition MPs adamantly opposed to the base, and other still unsure which way they are going to vote.
The government has approved the Czech-American Status of Forces (SOFA) Agreement which provides a legal framework for US soldiers on Czech soil. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová made the announcement to journalists on Wednesday, adding that the treaty is now ready for US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates to sign in London on September 19. The SOFA agreement lays down the terms by which US soldiers would operate at a proposed radar base in Brdy, Central Bohemia. Negotiations on the agreement’s wording have taken months longer than originally expected due to clauses on American soldiers’ tax status.
A senior Russian general said on Wednesday that Moscow was considering pointing its missiles at a proposed US radar base to be stationed in the Czech Republic. Czech and American delegates have already signed a treaty paving the way for a US anti-missile defence shield in the Czech Republic, with accompanying interceptor missiles to be housed in Poland. On Wednesday, the head of Russia’s strategic missile forces, Nikolai Solovtsov, told local press that the Czech Republic and Poland may now be chosen as ‘designated targets’ for Russian ballistic missiles. The Czech parliament still has to approve plans for a US radar before its construction can get underway.
Young Czech communists have gathered over 180,000 signatures on a petition against the planned construction of a US radar base on Czech soil. The organisers will hand the sheets with signatures to the petition committee of the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday. The Communist Youth Association, which was banned by court two years ago, will continue organising anti-radar petitions and meetings.
Martin Bursík, the leader of the Green Party can breathe a sigh of relief after a convincing victory over the weekend in a leadership contest spurred by his opponents. The party’s annual congress was moved forward by Mr Bursík in order to confront a rebellious faction opposed to his leadership, which accuses him of straying from the party’s roots. Chief among these opponents was Dana Kuchtová, a party insider vying for the top post. Two prominent Green MPs also opposed Mr Bursík’s leadership. Martin Bursík secured 227 out of 349 votes in the first
The Czech Republic and the United States have agreed on the final formulation of the Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA treaty - defining the conditions for US troops who will serve at a proposed US radar base on Czech territory. The Czech government is to deal with the treaty within two week’s time. A team of US specialists had been in the Czech Republic to continue negotiations, the Czech Defence Ministry said. On Friday the ministry revealed that only minor details, such as proofreading, now remained. The contents of the final text have not been released. The main treaty on the US radar base was signed back in July and will now have to be ratified by the country’s parliament.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
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