Czech politicians against Russians at base

Kateřina Eliášová
8. 4. 2008 14:30
Russia changes tactics in negotiations about radar

Prague - Czech politicians are mostly against the idea of the resigning Russian president Vladimir Putin who would like the Russian soldiers to take control of the American radar in Brdy.

Russia changed its tactics in negotiations about the radar in the Czech Republic.

They don´t clearly refuse it any more and admit that their worries could be diminished by the permanent presence of Russian experts at the American base.

Putin said so on Sunday, after the meeting with his American counterpart George Bush.

Czechs of different view

However, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg believes this is only a tactical manoeuvre. "I feel that Russians released it only as some kind of testing sentence, to see how we would react," he stated for Czech Public TV. 

His office denied that the permanent presence of Russians in Brdy would be a part of the contract, upon which the Czech Republic and the United States agreed last week at the summit of NATO in Bucurest.

The still unsigned agreement was also approved by NATO itself.

"There is no such a thing in the agreement," said the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zuzana Opletalová to Aktuálně.cz. "That would have to be a special agreement between Czechia and Russia."

The USA´s ambassador in the Czech Republic Richard Graber confirmed in the programme "Otázky Václava Moravce" (Questions of Václav Moravec) that his country would not conclude any agreement with Russia about the permanent presence of Russian experts at the base, unless Czechs agreed to that. 

Major part of coalition against

The domestic political stage has rather negative views of such an agreement with Russia, including the representatives of the governmental coalition.

"I would not allow the presence of some Russian experts," as for example said the chairman of  the Czech People´s Party Jiří Čunek.

Also, Civic Democrats are not overly excited about the Russian presence. "I cannot even imagine it [Russians at the base] now. It should be a part of settlement with Russia and there should also be some kind of reciprocity," claimed the Minister of Interior Ivan Langer.

Greens divided

The situation is still unclear amongst the Greens, they don´t have an unanimous opinion on the construction of the radar base itself. It is not clear how their representatives will vote when the agreement reaches the Parliament. 

On Saturday, the central committee of the party spoke against the construction and at the same time asked its representatives not to vote for the agreement.

One of the supporters of this idea is for example the first vice-chairwoman of the party, Dana Kuchtová, and the Minister of Education Ondřej Liška.

On the opposite side of the issue, at the weekend the chairman of the Greens Martin Bursík admitted a possibility of an agreement with Russia.

"In principle, observers are not a problem, because it deepens the mutual trust between the countries, but it needs to be somehow compensated," he stated for Czech Public TV.

The statement of president Putin did not change the negative attitude of the opposition parties in any way. The social democrats and also the communists still do not wish to have the American base in the Czech Republic. 

Reciprocal measures

If the Czech Republic really started negotiating with the Russian side, it would have lead to a separate agreement at the governmental level that would probably have to be also approved by the Parliament.

Czech politicians and the American ambassador Richard Graber also talked about the fact that as part of a possible agreement with the Eastern superpower, there would also have to be some reciprocal measures for example the fact that the Czech experts would be able to inspect Russian military grounds.


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