PM Topolánek: Radar base treaty threatens Lisbon treaty

18. 3. 2009 23:00
Premier spoke to Aktuálně.cz about the last minute withdrawal of the ratification from the lower house agenda
Mirek Topolánek not entirely happy about having to suspend the ratification of the radar base treaty
Mirek Topolánek not entirely happy about having to suspend the ratification of the radar base treaty | Foto: Reuters

Votes in lower house

Coalition votes for radar base:
96 votes (Civic Democrats+Christian Democrats+Greens)
+ Miloš Melčák and Petr Wolf not clear

Opposition votes against radar base:
97 votes (Social Democrats+Communists)
+2 former Green MPs Olga Zubová and Věra Jakubková

Uncertain votes:
Christian Demo Ludvík Hovorka (probably against)
Green Ondřej Liška (against or will abstain)
Evžen Snítilý (against or will abstain)


Prague - Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek suspended the ratification of the Czech-US missile shield treaty from Czech Parliament's lower house on Tuesday in a move to prevent being voted down.

"It does not mean we would give up on the ratification process," PM Topolánek (Civic Democrats) said in an interview for Aktuálně.cz.

The opposition party Social Democrats (ČSSD) pushed the ratification of the treaty on the lower house agenda but Topolánek withdrew the treaty last minute, since his government lacks the supporting votes for the project at the moment.

The treaty has been previously approved by the Senate but the lower house seems to be almost equally divided over the US project to install a radar base in the Czech Republic.

Mirek Topolánek spoke to Aktuálně.cz about the reasons why he put the treaty on ice and whether its ratification will effect the Lisbon treaty approval.

Aktuálně.cz: It is not a common move to withdraw the document from the house agenda. Why did you decide to do so?

Shortly before the Social Democrats' weekend congress, I note an increased number of attacks on the coalition. The Socialists try to ruin all the sessions. We don't want to face another situation we did last autumn when by failing to approve the military missions for Afghanistan we put the lives of our soldiers at risk because they would be there without our mandate.

A: Does this mean the end of the missile shield in the Czech Republic?

I must say that it was not an easy decision (to withdraw the treaties from the agenda) but it does not mean we would give up on the ratification process. This move is a standard instrument and it allows us to put the ratification of the treaty back on the house agenda at any time. We will do so as soon as things with the radar base become clear and as soon as the atmosphere in the lower house ceases to be so negative.

A: Will you have enough votes required for the ratification?

I must say that everybody must be aware of what he or she is risking here. It was not us who launched the negotiations over the radar base with the Americans. Nevertheless, there are certain doubts about the timing and financing of the project. In this respect the visit of President Barack Obama and the NATO summit in Strasbourg and Khel can send a clear signal. Only after that there mayl be the right occasion to get back to the ratification as part of the standard process.

The Czech Republic and the US signed a deal on deployment of a missile defence radar in July 2008
The Czech Republic and the US signed a deal on deployment of a missile defence radar in July 2008 | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

A: Is there a danger of "killing" the Lisbon Treaty? ODS congress recommended not to approve the Lisbon treaty before the radar base treaty is ratified.

I think it is possible (the end of Lisbon treaty). But I would stress it is not entirely our responsibility. I will not instruct anyone how to vote and in which case. I have said that many times before.

A: The coalition is weak now with some MPs being ill,  some away for the EU presidency related meetings.. and ČSSD is calling for a no-confidence vote. Will your government survive?

It does not worry me. It is something I have been facing since June 2006. If there is a will for someone else to rule, then be it and someone else can rule instead of me. It is always probable and any politician must be ready to face that.

I do not really anticipate that, though, as I don't know anyone in Europe who wants to be in power these days and keep explaining people why they are losing jobs and why there are steps being taken as never before since the World War II.



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