Just preceding the Russian President’s visit, Mr Schwarzenberg also responded toughly to Russia’s opposition to NATO’s missile defence project. Asked about Russian demands for legal guarantees regarding the planned anti-missile shield, Mr Schwarzenberg said the alliance would not have conditions dictated to it, and that Moscow’s Cold War stance towards the project was confused. President Medvedev has threatened to install missiles in Kaliningrad and other regions that would target parts of the Western anti-missile project. Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia would be wasting its money if it invested in counter-measures against the NATO project. NATO has repeatedly called on Moscow to cooperate with it in the sphere of anti-missile defence.
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrives in Prague on Wednesday at the invitation of Czech President Václav Klaus. His short visit will entail primarily meetings with President Klaus, who is often noted for his warm attitude towards Russia, and later on Thursday with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. There is plenty on the table for discussion among Czech and Russian leaders, namely business deals and Russia’s bid for the tender to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Many of the milestones in the last decade of Czech-Russian relations
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has told his Georgian counterpart, Nika Gilauri, that the Czech Republic supports Georgia’s bid for NATO membership. In a statement likely to irritate the Caucasus country’s northern neighbour, Russia, Mr Nečas told Prime Minister Gilauri that the Czech Republic – like other former Soviet-bloc countries – had had to overcome the same kind of Russian opposition to their joining NATO. Those countries’ membership, he said, contributed to the security and stability of Europe and did not lead to a conflict with Russia. The Russian Federation has long opposed Georgia’s aspiration to join the alliance, primarily because of its numerous border disputes with the country, which led to open military conflict in 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be visiting the Czech Republic at the beginning of December.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Estonia say their countries’ business relations are good and could be even deeper. The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said after a meeting between the two that Estonia is an interesting country for Czech exporters particularly in the areas of energy, environmental protection and transport engineering. Estonian PM Andrus Ansip said he appreciated the work of the Czech jet pilots who protected Baltic airspace during 2009 and should do so again next year, though Mr Nečas reminded that there should be a certain degree of cost sharing on that NATO mission.
A record minimum of Czechs support the country’s membership in the European Union, a new poll suggests. The survey conducted by the STEM agency says that 59% percent of respoendents responded positively to membership, while 30% were clearly negative. The highest period of confidence in the union was during the Czech EU presidency in 2009, when 80% were in favour. Te poll also suggests that satisfaction with NATO membership is higher, with 70% approving after 12 years of membership in the alliance.
U.S. General Timothy Ray, who is in charge of building an Afghan air force, has praised the Czech Republic’s input in training Afghan helicopter pilots. In an interview for the CTK news agency the general said the work of Czech instructors was excellent and the skill of Czech mechanics who have experience with Russian military equipment was proving invaluable. Czech military experts are teaching Afghan pilots to fly Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters and maintain them, both in the Czech Republic and in Afghanistan. The Czech Republic has aspirations to establish a NATO helicopter pilot training centre in Pardubice, east Bohemia.
On a working visit to the United States Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas is to meet for talks with US President Barack Obama. The meeting, which is to cover bilateral cooperation and international security issues, is expected to be dominated by US interest in a multi-billion crown tender on the expansion of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant. The US-based firm Westinghouse is competing against two other bidders in the tender. According to the CTK news agency the Czech prime minister will seek US support for the idea of a training centre for NATO helicopter pilots in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Army on Thursday officially ended its mission in Kosovo after 12 years in the country. The Czech troops were part of a NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, established on the basis of a UN Security Council Resolution. Their main mission was to guard Kosovo’s borders, maintain law and order and protect towns and ethnic minorities against attacks by extremist groups. The last of the 8,000 Czech troops who served in the country since 1999 on Thursday symbolically handed over the keys of the city Sajkovac and for the last time lowered the Czech flag over the KFOR military base where they served. The Czech Army now only has troops in Afghanistan and a handful of officers serving as military observers in other states.
NATO Days & Czech Air Force Days – the largest air, army and security show in Central Europe – is continuing at Mošnov Airport near Ostrava, in the east of the country. More than 145,000 people have attended the popular show this year. Spectators have been able to view military planes, tanks and equipment close up as well as watch 72 different presentations, including an aerobatic show by the Turkish Flyers.
Thousands of motorists have reportedly been heading for NATO Days in Mošnov, near Ostrava in the east of the country, an annual event showcasing NATO and Czech military technology. Traffic jams five kilometres in length or greater have formed as a result, leading to several hour delays. Last year, almost 200,000 people visited the airport in Mošnov for the respected military event and air show. The weekend programme will see some 72 presentations: on Saturday morning visitors were able to see both fighter planes as well as rescue helicopters in action.
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