Tuesday, August 22, 2006
CZECHS PROTEST PROPOSED US MISSLE BASE
On Tuesday evening, about 150 people attended a demonstration on Prague's Peace Square—or Namesti Miru. The gathering was organized by the Humane Party, a movement which includes numerous factions all united by their desire to prevent a possible U.S. anti-missile base on Czech territory.
Martin Mikule, a member of the youth group "Revolution", told Radio Praha the protesters opposed the base, ""Because we are opposed to the American foreign policy, which we see as the reason for the state of the world today, for the wars which are waged not only in Lebanon, but also in the rest of the world. The base here in Europe—not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Poland or Britain—is part of strengthening such hegemony of the United States."
Czech Business Weekly reports two separate public opinion polls conducted by Median in July and Stem in August found 83 percent and 51 percent of Czech, respectively, opposed to hosting a U.S. base. The Stem poll also showed that 61 percent want a referendum held on the issue, the main demand of the “Ne základnám” (no to bases) initiative, which includes more than 30 civic organizations, including Greenpeace and Soldiers Against War; a protest is planned for Aug. 21. The Communists (KSČM) will demand a referendum at the Aug. 29 session of Parliament.
Most adamantly opposed are Czechs aged over 50, who remember the Cold War occupation of the Soviet military, according to the Median agency poll.
Opposition to hosting an anti-missile base (designed to be part of a proposed global defence shield) has led the United States to look beyond its preferred option of locating interceptor units – capable of knocking out a ballistic missile fired by terrorists or hostile nations – in the Czech Republic or Poland, with British officials saying U.S. defense planners are making discreet inquiries.
The following article is taken from the Prague Daily Monitor.
Activists stage protest against proposed US missile base
About 150 people attended a demonstration at namesti Miru in Prague yesterday staged by the No to Bases group against a proposed US missile base in the Czech Republic and called for a referendum on the issue.
The activists said that the base would not enhance Czech national security as it was devised to protect the US, not Europe.
It also would not contribute to the Czech economy since it would employ only a handful of Czechs, using supplies from US sources, organisers said.
The demonstration was called organised to coincide with the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968. Activist Jan Tamas said that on August 21, 1968 foreign troops entered Czechoslovakia without its citizens' consent.
At present, too, there is the threat that foreign troops will enter the Czech Republic, while there is no guarantee that the public could decide on this in a referendum, Tamas said.
No to Bases associates over 30 groups such as the Humanistic Movement, the International Peace Movement, the Centre of Culture and the Community for Human Development.
Organisers said that they would stage a number of similar protests. Last Monday, some 100 protesters marched in Prague.
Over 1,000 people have signed the petition for the referendum, Tamas said, adding that organisers would pass it to the Chamber of Deputies petition committee by the end of the week.
US experts have visited Czech military districts in Boletice, south Bohemia, Jince, central Bohemia, and Libava, north Moravia. The results of the inspection tour are to be published by the end of August.
Washington plans to station radars and ten defence missiles in Europe by 2011 to destroy missiles launched from potential risk countries such as North Korea and Iran. The Pentagon may want to place one part of the system in the Czech Republic and the other in Poland.
However, the British daily The Times reported last Wednesday that Britain is also be considered. The daily said that owing to the negative stance of the Czech and Polish publics, the US Department of Defense officials had turned to British embassy in Washington asking whether Britain would accept a possible request for building a base with ten missiles on its territory.
According to polls, most Czechs and Poles oppose the construction of a US base in their countries. A recent STEM poll shows that most Czechs want the issue to be decided in a referendum.
Out of the five parties in parliament, only the Civic Democrats (ODS) clearly support the idea of a US base in the Czech Republic.