Archive for the ‘Czech Republic’ Category

US urges Russia to consider missile offer

February 9, 2009

The United States wants to boost cooperation with Russia on short- and medium-range missiles, a senior NATO diplomat said Monday, after Washington signalled a review of its missile shield plans.

“The administration is making a renewed offer, to say we would like to work with Russia on missile defence and we hope that Russia is more willing to discuss that,” the diplomat said, on condition of anonymity.

He said Washington “genuinely wants to work with Russia on missile defence, believes that these threats, particularly the short- and medium-range ones, already exist.”

“We have a common interest with Russia in figuring out how to protect populations against these, we should be exploring how to do that,” he said.

The United States has been negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to install 10 missile interceptors, which would not carry explosive warheads, and a radar system on their territories.

The move has angered Russia as it sees the system as a threat to its security, while Washington argues the proposed shield is only directed at “rogue states,” primarily Iran.

Russia had threatened to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania, both NATO and EU members, if Washington did not halt its shield plans.

Laying out a vision of new US foreign policy Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden sought to reach out to Moscow, in a speech described by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov as positive.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Biden said the United States would only press ahead with its missile defence shield project “provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective.”

Nevertheless the NATO diplomat said President Barack Obama‘s administration was not shelving its plans, but that “it’s rather being prudent about the management of an expensive programme.”

“They want to take the time to do a review, to look at the test results, to make a judgement about the level of technological development,” he said.



Many Still Expect Obama To Surrender Missile Defense

February 9, 2009

Iran’s launch last week of a satellite using a homegrown rocket is another reminder of why Europe needs a missile defense — and needs to start building it now. Combine Iran’s improving missile technology with its nuclear aspirations, and it’s a lethal mix. This is especially timely given the debate inside the Obama Administration over whether to walk away from the U.S. promise to provide a defense shield for our European allies.

Wall Street Journal
Iran now joins eight countries with indigenous space-launch capability — an advance that, on the military side, translates into a step forward for its ballistic-missile technology. The threat isn’t immediate, as the satellite was small and lightweight compared to a nuclear warhead, but neither is Europe’s missile defense set to be deployed immediately. The reason to start early is precisely to be prepared, and not to have to scramble, if Iran develops its capability faster and the mullahs aren’t as benign as some think.

That’s why the Bush Administration pushed forward with a Europe-wide missile defense system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic and built over the next six years. It’s also why every NATO country has endorsed the U.S.-led effort. They have done so twice — first among heads of state in Bucharest in April and again at a meeting of foreign ministers after the U.S. election. NATO also plans to pursue its own missile defenses in conjunction with the Polish and Czech sites.

The question now is whether the Obama Administration will stand by its predecessor’s promise or, as is widely anticipated, suspend the European program. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama suggested missile defense was either ineffective or too expensive, or both. His nominee for the third-ranking position at the Pentagon, Michele Flournoy, has indicated that the deployment plans for Europe will be reviewed. In a speech over the weekend at the annual Munich security conference, Vice President Joseph Biden was ambiguous: “We will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective.”

Suspending the program would have serious consequences. It would send a signal of American weakness to Iran, which the Obama Administration says it wishes to engage….

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[Review & Outlook] 
Photo: AP

Russia: Won’t install missiles if no U.S. shield

February 6, 2009

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made clear Moscow won’t install Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if the United States does not deploy a missile shield in central Europe, Russia’s deputy prime minister said.

The previous U.S. administration of George W. Bush sealed deals last year to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.


The Bush administration said the shield was aimed at protecting Europe from “rogue states,” but Moscow sees it as a threat.

In response, it said it would install a missile system in Russia’s western outpost Kaliningrad, but Ivanov signaled on Friday that Russia was ready to reconsider that if Washington changed its missile shield plans.

President Medvedev from the very start said very clearly and unequivocally that if there are no interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic as was planned by the previous administration, clearly, there will be no Iskanders in Kaliningrad,” Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov told a security conference in Munich.

Ivanov said the U.S. missile shield was part of the United States’ strategic infrastructure and was aimed at deterring Russia’s nuclear missile potential.

“At the same time, we are eager to continue talks on that subject and hope it will yield some results,” he said.

Ivanov said Russia was open to a joint assessment of threats and if it was determined that they existed, to pursue a joint approach using Russian technology.

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Asian New Year Down in Many Countries Due To Economy

January 25, 2009

Our Vietnamese-American New Year got off to a slow start I thought and our pastor said to enjoy God’s blessings.

In years past, we just had fun!

Then a friend suggested the economy had depress the New Year’s start globally, which is undoubtedly true….


From Czech News, Czech Republic

“They say the year of the water buffalo will not be good. People who are born this year will have to work hard,” Mr. Hai says worryingly in a Vietnamese restaurant Little Hanoi in Prague’s outskirts where a celebration of New Year is about to begin.

The Vietnamese zodiac calls 2009 the year of the water buffalo and the Czech Vietnamese community is likely to experience a bad year, not only because of the water buffalo.

Hard Times

Lots of food and fun festivities welcome the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. This time Prague’s Vietnamese community invited Czech journalists to celebrate New Year with them and thus discover the charms of Vietnam’s most popular holiday called Tet.

The relaxed atmosphere of the Tet celebration was however occasionally interrupted by a mention of the economic downturn that has mercilessly hit the world, including the Czech Republic.

“Why don’t you wish this economic crisis is over soon,” says one of the Vietnamese organizers to a guest who is about to say his wish to a Vietnamese-sign painter.

It is understood by everybody present in the room why the guest should wish the end of the economic crisis. The facts are well known – Czech factories are massively sacking employees and foreign workers are the first ones to lose their jobs.

As soon as their work contracts are terminated, jobless foreigners must return home but often find themselves in a difficult situation, not having any money to buy a ticket. According to humanitarian organizations, hundreds if not thousands of Vietnamese happen to be in a such desperate situation.

“Laying off people is a great problem. We are trying to find some kind of solution for these people, get them a new working permit and we have been appealling to Czech companies to give them at least temporary jobs,” says Le Minh Cau, vice-president of the Vietnamese Association in the Czech Republic.

According to Marcel Winter, the chairman of the Czech Vietnamese Society, the Vietnamese markets that are so abundant in every Czech town are expected to disappear in about three years as a consequence of the global economic meltdown.

“We conducted a survey and our profits dropped down to half in the past year. It is because of the financial crisis,” representative of Asia Dragon Bazar Hong Nguyen said for Aktuálně.cz not long ago. “The truth is nobody really knows what is going to happen,” he added.
In January a Czech green card program kicked off, which allows guest workers to get working permits in the country but has been limited to 12 non-EU countries by the Interior Ministry. Vietnam was excluded over alleged security risks. The only Asian countries included in the list are Japan and South Korea.
The Vietnamese community is the third largest immigrant group in the Czech Republic and Vietnam is also among the 9 priority countries of Czech development aid.
The Czech Republic is the only country in the world that has been providing a continuous humanitarian or development aid since 1945. The first Vietnamese came to the country in 1950 and the prolific cooperation went on until 1989 when the communist government was toppled.

Gaza: Israeli Troops Out By Obama Inauguration

January 19, 2009

Israeli officials say their troops will leave the Gaza Strip before President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated on Tuesday.

This is the first official indication that Israel plans a rapid withdrawal of its forces after announcing a unilateral cease-fire Saturday in its devastating three-week offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Israel made this plan known at a dinner Sunday with European leaders who were in the region in an effort to  secure the fragile cease-fire that Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers declared on Sunday.  The cease fire follows  a three-week Israeli offensive.

Israeli leaders said the pullout could only be possible if militants continue to halt their fire.

Thousands of Israeli troops have already started to leave Gaza. Hamas declared a weeklong truce on Sunday.

At the dinner, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his guests that his country had no desire to stay in Gaza.

“We didn’t set out to conquer Gaza. We didn’t set out to control Gaza. We don’t want to remain in Gaza and we intend on leaving Gaza as fast as possible,” Olmert told the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said that if Gaza remains quiet, Israel’s departure will be “almost immediate.”
 The head of the Hamas administration claimed a “popular victory” against Israel.

“The enemy has failed to achieve its goals,” Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech.

Hamas’s truce decision, conditioned on Israel withdrawing within a week, was “wise and responsible,” he said.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

From Associated Press, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post


 Gaza: Both Sides Claim “Victory” But All Looks Destroyed

Hamas declares victory in Gaza claiming it lost only 48 fighters

Poland hopes Obama will back missile shield

January 12, 2009

Poland’s Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Monday he hoped the administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will press ahead with plans to install elements of a missile shield on Polish soil.

Warsaw agreed last August to station 10 ground missile interceptors as part of the global missile defense system Washington says will protect the United States and its allies from attacks by what it calls ‘rogue states’, notably Iran.


“I hope the new administration of President-elect Barack Obama, led by strategic security considerations, will continue the installation of missile defenses,” Sikorski told a ceremony to commemorate the 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Washington and Warsaw.


Obama, who is to be sworn in as president on January 20, has said he wants to be sure any missile defense system has been proven to work before it is deployed.


The plan, which also envisages a radar facility in the Czech Republic, faces stiff opposition from Russia, Poland’s Soviet-era overlord. Moscow regards the plan as a direct threat to its own security.


(Reporting by Gareth Jones and Gabriela Baczynska at Reuters)

Will US extend the ballistic missile shield to India?

January 8, 2009

Even as India prepares to test its own fledgling ballistic missile defence (BMD) system for the third time “within a month or so”, New Delhi and Washington are moving towards signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the BMD arena.

The Times of India

Sources told TOI on Thursday that some rounds of talks on “possible collaboration on BMD or missile shield systems to enhance cooperative security and stability” have been held between India and US in recent times.

“Most of these discussions have taken place under the Joint Technical Group, a sub-group of the overall Indo-US Defence Policy Group architecture. The US is very keen to work with us in the missile defence arena. A formal MoU is now on the cards,” said a source.

But the MoU does not mean that India is signing up for a proposed American missile defence shield programme on the lines of Poland and the Czech Republic, which has led to a major diplomatic row between US and Russia in recent months.

Instead, the plan is to seek some missile defence technical know-how from the US. As part of this, Indian officials and scientists have already witnessed some simulations and a couple of live tests of the US missile defence system. The US, of course, has even offered to sell the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system to India.

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Gaza Cease Fire? Israel Clarifies Tough Stand

January 5, 2009

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday that the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip was intended to “change the equation” in the region, whereby Hamas fires at Israel and Israel responds with restraint.

Speaking to reporters alongside her counterparts from the Czech Republic, France and Sweden, Livni defended Israel’s incursion into the Hamas-ruled coastal territory as a form of “legitimate self-defense.”

From Haaretz Newspaper
The foreign minister, who returned from Paris on Monday following talks with French officials, added that Israel has no choice but to retaliate when attacked.

Meanwhile, Czech FM Karel Schwarzenberg stressed the European Union’s stance that a cease-fire must be reached immediately between Israel and Gaza. Schwarzenberg said the EU rejected Israel’s approach that a truce could not be reached until the Israel Defense Forces had achieved all of its aims in Gaza.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Monday defended Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip, saying any nation seeking to survive would have taken the same form of action.

Prior to briefing the political-security cabinet on the situation in Gaza, Barak told Israeli radio station that while Hamas has suffered great losses under Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive, many of the military’s goals had yet to be achieved.

“Hamas has so far sustained a very heavy blow from us, but we have yet to achieve our objective and therefore the operation continues,” Barak said.

“The fundamental objective is to change the reality of security for the south,” Barak said, referring to Israeli towns that have come under continuous Palestinian rocket attack from Gaza.

“We are striving for a new reality in which there won’t be activity from Gaza against Israeli civilians or our soldiers, a situation which will dramatically change the state of smuggling and in which quiet will prevail in the south,” Barak added.

The defense minister also said he was certain that Israel would end its operation in Gaza “with an upper hand.” He added that Israel was engaged in diplomatic contacts with international officials regarding the operation.

As part of an eventual halt to the fighting, Israel is seeking help from international and regional partners to increase security along Gaza’s border with Egypt to prevent Hamas from rebuilding tunnels and rearming.

“It is clear Hamas cannot be allowed to rearm and we have to find workable solutions to prevent that rearming. And here our international and regional partners have a role to play,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

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EU In For A New Czech

December 31, 2008

A weak government. A Euro-skeptic president. Parliament in stalemate over an EU reform treaty. The Czech Republic does not look ideally suited to assume leadership of the European Union.

On Thursday, the Czechs take over the bloc’s six-month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe’s economic woes.

The Czech Republic, only the second post-communist EU newcomer to take the bloc’s helm, will face the daunting task of implementing a $258 billion European economic stimulus package approved by EU leaders under the French presidency.

By KAREL JANICEK, Associated Press Writer

In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo Czech President Vaclav Klaus ... 
In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo Czech President Vaclav Klaus gestures during a press conference, at the Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, in Bucharest, Romania. On Thursday Jan. 1, 2009, the Czechs take over the bloc’s six month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe’s economic woes.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The nation of about 10 million people bordering Germany and Poland is also the last EU member to vote on the stalled Lisbon Treaty — a blueprint for reforming the EU that supporters say is essential for it to work effectively.

EU Reality Czech: Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus

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EU Reality Czech: Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus

December 27, 2008

When you are head of state of the country about to hold the EU presidency, you might normally be looking forward to a taste of the international limelight, and a busier, more prestigious schedule than usual.

But Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, may be relishing his country’s assumption of EU leadership in January for very different reasons – as an opportunity to publicise views which other EU leaders will not enjoy hearing.

Vaclav Klaus 
Vaclav Klaus

For Mr Klaus, a steely, bespectacled economist who came to sudden prominence after the Czechoslovak revolution against communism, is a vehement Eurosceptic. He believes the EU has echoes of the old Soviet bloc he used to live under.

And he is also an enthusiastic challenger of European and international policy on everything from climate change to relations with Russia.

Constant dissidence

Mr Klaus gave a foretaste of what the EU can expect on an official visit to Ireland in November. Upsetting his Irish hosts, he ostentatiously visited Declan Ganley, leader of the successful Irish No campaign against ratification of the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty.

Klaus compared Ganley and his supporters to dissidents in the old communist bloc – which angered many former Czech dissidents who suffered persecution and imprisonment for their views.

But Mr Klaus likes to think of his life as a kind of constant dissidence against what he sees as the erroneous views of the majority.

Read the rest from the BBC: