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Czech Villagers Vote Against US Anti-Missile Defence Shield

According to a survey by the CVVM institute in March, around six out of 10 Czechs are opposed to hosting the X-band radar, which would detect a missile attack. Ten interceptor missiles based in Poland would shoot it out of the sky. On the political level, the country's strong Communist Party has led attacks on the proposed radar. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, is demanding a referendum, and the Green Party, which forms part of the centre-right governing coalition, wants the base integrated in EU and NATO defence plans.

The proposed rollout of the US missile shield in Central Europe has split European countries. But a hostile Germany has failed to open a debate about it within NATO, which considers the decision a purely bilateral issue between the US and its staunch allies, the Czech Republic and Poland. Moscow has protested against the construction of a defence system installed on its doorstep.

by Sophie Pons
Trokavec, Czech Republic (AFP) March 17, 2007
Inhabitants of a small Czech village voted overwhelmingly on Saturday against US plans to construct part of its anti-missile defence system on a nearby army base. Seventy-two out of 90 residents eligible to vote did so, and 71 voted against the plans and one for, Trokavec's mayor Jan Neoral told AFP.

The vote will only have a symbolic value, as the government has resolutely refused to hold a national referendum and instead has chosen to seek parliamentary approval of Washington's request.

But neighbouring villages in the forested, hilly countryside around 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Prague, also intend to hold their own referendums over the next weeks, Neoral told AFP.

"This is our message to the government and the government should take notice of the fact that our village wishes (the radar installation) not to happen," Neoral said.

The siting of the radar at the base, two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the village, is part of requests made by the US to the government of Prime Minister Mirek Topanek, who is in favour of the plans.

"We have nothing against the Americans," said Trokavec resident Ladislav Straka. "If it were the Russians or the Japanese, it would be the same. We don't want it."

Milena Huskova, a 52-year-old labrador breeder, was also against the plan.

"The radar can have a negative impact on us, on the animals and on nature, so we don't want it," Huskova said.

According to a survey by the CVVM institute in March, around six out of 10 Czechs are opposed to hosting the X-band radar, which would detect a missile attack. Ten interceptor missiles based in Poland would shoot it out of the sky.

On the political level, the country's strong Communist Party has led attacks on the proposed radar. The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, is demanding a referendum, and the Green Party, which forms part of the centre-right governing coalition, wants the base integrated in EU and NATO defence plans.

The proposed rollout of the US missile shield in Central Europe has split European countries. But a hostile Germany has failed to open a debate about it within NATO, which considers the decision a purely bilateral issue between the US and its staunch allies, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Moscow has protested against the construction of a defence system installed on its doorstep.

The US has offered assurances that the Czech and Polish bases are aimed at completing coverage from installations already in place in the United States, Britain and Greenland and that they are only aimed at preventing long range missile attacks from the Middle East.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Missile Plans Accelerate Defence Shield Debate At NATO
Brussels (AFP) March 15, 2007
US plans to install part of a missile shield in Europe, despite Russian hostility, have accelerated debate at NATO about developing a similar system, alliance diplomats say.







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