The anti-missile umbrella, the missile defense system the U.S. had planned to install in the Czech Republic and Poland several years ago, was — according to claims at the time — to defend Europe and the U.S. from a possible intercontinental ballistic missile attack from hostile countries, as Iran is for Americans. Russia sharply disagreed with its implementation. The concept originated under the administration of Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush.
A proposal to renew the missile defense project in the Czech Republic has once again divided the political stage. Pavel Kováčik of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia maintains that it’s absolute nonsense. František Laudát of TOP 09 [Editor’s note: TOP 09 is a fiscally conservative Czech political party], on the contrary, would welcome even a rusty ship from the U.S. Lidovky.cz asked parliament deputies for their viewpoint on American Senator John McCain’s proposal in the context of Russia’s occupation of Crimea.
“Restart the missile defense system that Obama canceled in order to placate Putin in the Czech Republic and Poland,” said Arizona Senator John McCain Monday in a Fox News program. He declared that he had predicted a Russian occupation of Crimea and added that he has concerns about eastern Ukraine, considering that Putin has been so “successful” thus far.
Lidovky.cz has been seeking Czech officials’ opinions on McCain’s proposals.
František Laudát, vice chairman, TOP 09 parliamentary caucus:
“Even before Obama threw it under the table, I voted for the radar and haven’t changed my mind about it. It’s not about whether we become a target of attack, but about arming ourselves — about having any kind of American equipment, even a rusty ship on the Orlík River. Then we’ll have one of the highest guarantees that that no one will come here onto our territory and that 1968 — or 1938 — won’t be repeated [Editor’s note: The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968; Germany, in 1938]. In general, it doesn’t necessarily only have to do with Russia. I’m surprised how Mr. Zaorálek clamored against the radar back then, and now he’s militantly opposed to Russia.”
Pavel Kováčik, chairman, Communist Party caucus:
“I think it’s absolute nonsense. The citizenry has rejected the radar once already. We would certainly not agree with it.”
Jan Bartošek, vice president, Chamber of Deputies (Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party):
“I assume that the proposal of the Republican Senator and American foreign policy hawk John McCain is more likely aimed at the American public. Besides, it was American President Barack Obama who, right here in Prague, scratched the American radar in the Czech Republic in favor of resetting American-Russian relations. As far as the whole idea goes, I think it’s necessary to calm things down rather than escalate them.”
President Miloš Zeman (Czech Social Democratic Party):
“Mr. President was an opponent of this project and regarded it as ineffective. Nothing in that viewpoint has changed,” said his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček.
Roman Sklenák, Chairman, Czech Social Democratic Party caucus:
“At this moment I have nothing to say on the matter. I have noted the proposal, but I have not considered it thoroughly, and we didn’t even discuss it at our party conference meeting. I think it was more speculation or whim than a clear proposal, so at this moment it isn’t even relevant. It would require a lengthy journey to eventually realize it.”
Radim Fiala, chair, Úsvit [Editor’s note: Tomio Okamura's Dawn of Direct Democracy aka “Dawn,” is a populist political Czech party] Party caucus:
“I’m surprised at the senator’s statement. During the negotiations on Brdy [in 2008], I was assured that it was a reaction to the Iranian missile and nuclear program. If it’s something else, then the negotiations between the U.S. and Czech governments back then were insincere and someone was lying. I consider the current situation in Ukraine grounds for a revised concept of building the Czech army and the country’s defenses. The eventual integration of allied forces and systems is natural. But it can’t emanate from the American senator’s spur-of-the-moment idea on how to peeve Russia. We want to be allies within the framework of NATO, but we can’t be underlings and idiots, whom people lie to and manipulate as it suits them.”
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Czech Social Democratic Party):
“Such a system (an anti-missile shield) won’t change anything about the current situation. Moreover, our security is not threatened today.”
Zbyněk Stanjura, Chairman, Civic Democratic Party conference:
“We need to know if it is a serious proposal or just an opinion, even that of a famous and esteemed senator. We have always been for it, but there has to be interest at the cabinet level. I can’t comment further at the moment.”
Jaroslava Jermanová, vice president, Chamber of Deputies (ANO 2011):
“I understand this reaction evoked by the situation in Ukraine, but I can’t assume a position now — I’m not a foreign affairs specialist. Personally, I perceive it as the senator’s statement and nothing more. The question is, what will come of it? Right now, I can only say that I will take it into consideration—period.”