The Czech news agency, ČTK, has reported that the Czech Foreign Minister
Jan Kohout will meet for talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
on Monday. Mr Kohout will be in New York ahead of the 64th session of the
General Assembly of the United Nations. It is not known what topics will be
on the agenda in the meeting with Mrs Clinton but there is speculation they
could include possible Czech cooperation on US missile defence. On Friday,
Mrs Clinton said that the Czech Republic and Poland were key candidates for
the placement of new mobile anti-rocket missiles planned by the US - a
system which will replace a proposed radar base in the Czech Republic and
rocket installation in Poland. The earlier missile defence plans were
scrapped by the US this week.
In related news, the Czech delegation travelling to the US for the UN Generally Assembly session leaves on Sunday, headed by Czech President Václav Klaus.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has written an opinion piece in the Sunday edition of the New York Times in which he calls the future of missile defense in Europe “secure”. The article outlines a new direction for the US after earlier plans for an advance radar in the Czech Republic, and interceptor rockets in Poland, were scrapped by the US this week. In the article, Mr Gates contends that the earlier system (aimed at defending against long-range missiles) was suitable but based on earlier technology and threat assessments. In its new plan, the US is hoping to deploy sea-based systems by 2011, followed by ground-based anti-rocket missiles later. In his op-ed, the defense secretary challenged critics who said the US had made a concession to Russia, stressing that Russian opposition to the earlier defence plans had played “no part” in his recommendation to US President Barack Obama.
Former prime minister Miloš Zeman, who is planning on founding a new political party in the Czech Republic, has said he will not run for a seat in the lower house in the next election. He made the statement on Sunday as a guest on a popular TV debate programme, saying he was ready to chair the party being put together by supporters. Miloš Zeman retired from politics in 2002 - although he made a brief return a year later in an unsuccessful bid for the Czech presidency. Mr Zeman has cited what he called “citizens’ disgust with politicians – not politics” as being the impulse for him to come back. A recent internet poll by SANEP, has suggested most Czechs do not want to see Mr Zeman return to politics, although a majority assessed his past political actives positively.
Two ministers from Jan Fischer’s caretaker government have said the cabinet will not link a confidence vote extending its mandate to any concrete bill for the time being: neither an austerity measures package by the finance minister, nor the state budget for 2010. Interior Minister Martin Pecina and Defence Minister Martin Barták made the comments on a Czech TV debate programme on Sunday. Social Democrat deputy leader Zdeněk Škromach reacted by saying that if the government passed the budget it would prove it had sufficient backing in the Chamber of Deputies. But Civic Democrat and former trade minister Martin Říman responded by saying the contrary: that the confidence vote should be linked to the austerity measure. The current interim government, led by Jan Fischer, originally intended to lead the country to early elections in October or November. Those were scuppered last week, when it was revealed the Social Democrats would not back the dissolution of the lower house.
An unknown assailant has held up a bank in Uherský Brod in Moravia for the third time, the police revealed on Sunday. The latest robbery, took place on Friday at noon, with the armed perpetrator making off with tens of thousands of crowns. The man, who is estimated as being between the age of 35-40 and is of slim build, was recognised as the same man by the teller. The earlier hold-ups, also at gunpoint, took place in January and March of this year. A closed-circuit camera outside the bank on Friday recorded images of the perpetrator.
A two-day military show near Ostrava, NATO DAYS 2009, has wrapped up, after being visited by tens of thousands of visitors. On Saturday viewers were able to see F-16s in flight, as well as to get a close-up look from outside and inside the C-5 Galaxy: one of the largest commercially built military aircraft in the world. Czech flyers have also taken part in the show, flying JAS-39C Gripens in what is the largest air force and armed forces show in Europe.
The Czech Republic’s tennis players will face defending champion Spain in the final of the Davis Cup. On Saturday Spain took an unassailable 3:0 lead over Israel, while the Czech Republic won again over Croatia. In the doubles on Saturday at the seaside town of Porec, Czech players Tomáš Berdych and Radek Štepánek made swift work of Marin Cilic and Lovro Zovko, after having won closely fought singles matches a day earlier. The Czechs have played in just two finals before, winning once, in 1980. This year marks the first time the players have made it to the final representing the Czech Republic (and not Czechoslovakia). The Davis Cup final will be played in Spain in December; sources say the match will most likely be played on clay.
Czech football striker Václav Svěrkoš was sent off in a match between his side Sochaux and Valenciennes in the French league on Saturday. The Czech, who also plays for the national squad, was given a red card in the 82nd minute for a dangerous challenge on Gomis. Sochaux lost the game by a score of 5:2.
The Czech Republic is to continue negotiations with the US on possible participation on a new type of missile defence shield, the Czech Defence Minister Martin Barták has said. On Friday, he met with officials in Washington including US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the head of the US National Security Council James Jones. Further high-level talks are expected by the end of the year and the Czechs have expressed an interest in having their experts join the Missile Defence Agency (MDA). The latest developments come after the US scrapped plans for a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland this week – components of a system backed by former US president George W. Bush. Instead, the US will now look into creating a mobile ground-based system, blocking the threat of short and mid-range rockets, which could go into operation in 2015. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates made clear on Friday that the Czech Republic and Poland but also other EU countries were possible candidates for participation in the project.
In related news, it will become clearer in October or November whether the Czech Republic will buy C-130 Hercules military transport planes from the United States. The Czech Defence Minister Martin Barták said on Friday after meeting with his US counterpart Robert Gates that negotiations were continuing. The planes could replace Russian An-26s in the Czech Air Force. Final details will be negotiated at the same time as other items, such as possible participation the development of a new US anti-missile system. Sources reported this week that the sale of the Hercules planes to the Czech Republic had hit a road bump over a rise in the asking price by the US.