Praha - The Czech Senate approved proposals to station a US radar base on Czech soil.
Forty nine of 81 senators voted for both treaties - treaty on deployment of a missile defence radar and SOFA treaty.
"It is a crucial signal for the world, for Europe and for the country itself. I am very happy, we worked very hard," said FA Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (Green Party). "The Senators realized they are responsible for the future of the country," he added.
Deputy PM and Minister for EU Affairs Alexandr Vondra (Civic Democrats) said that the Czech Republic met its commitment¨by approving the treaties. "If we are to rely on others, they must have a chance to rely on us too. We are in NATO, which is a commitment for us. Today's approval sends out a clear signal," said Vondra.
An hour-long lively discussion preceded the vote. Among the speakers was also PM Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democrats).
"We are in NATO and a radar base is an important part of the missile defense system for our ally," he said.
PM Topolánek dismissed the argument that there is no threat to our country as stupid. In his view, in two or three voting periods the threat may come. Regarding Russia's objections to the radar base on Czech soil, he said that :an old imperialism is emerging in Russia:.
"Russia knows well that the defense system is not and cannot be directed at them," said PM Topolánek.
There is no date yet for the vote in the Chamber of Deputies but they may vote on the treaties by the end of the year.
Prague and Washington signed the two treaties on the radar base in Brdy in the summer this year. The US would like to have the defense system fully in operation by 2012.
After the first part of the US-Czech defense missile deal was signed in July, Moscow sent threats that it would retaliate militarily should the treaty be ratified by Czech lawmakers.
Two thirds of Czechs are allegedly against the US radar base on Czech soil.