March 11, 2014

Zeman: Proposed US missile defense ineffective

Senator John McCain has suggested reviving the Bush-era radar and missile plan

Prague, March 11 (ČTK) — Czech President Miloš Zeman considers a possible building of a part of the U.S. missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland ineffective, he told ČTK via his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček today.

He reacted to Monday’s suggestion by U.S. Republican Senator John McCain that the US resume the project, originally planned by the George W. Bush administration and scrapped by Barack Obama in 2009, in reaction to the recent Russian invasion of Crimea.

“The president opposed the project [from the beginning], he considered it ineffective, and nothing has changed about his position,” Ovčáček told ČTK.

Zeman was inaugurated as Czech president in March 2013.

Speaking on the U.S. television channel Fox News, McCain said Washington should restart the planned construction of missile defense installations in the Czech Republic and Poland in order to calm down Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In today’s interview with the Parlamentní listy server, Zeman recalled that lawyers are disputing over whether the recent unseating of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was legitimate.

“I recognize that the Ukrainian constitution includes the institution of impeachment, similar to the USA’s, and that a two-third majority [of lawmakers] is required for the president to be unseated. This [required majority condition] seems not to be met in this case,” Zeman said.

“On the other hand, by leaving his homeland, a politician voluntarily gives up his influence on it. Yanukovych could have left for eastern Ukraine, thus remaining on his home country’s territory. The fact that he departed for Russia indicates a certain weakness of his position,” Zeman added.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Social Democrats, ČSSD) said the situation in Crimea is a threat on “an entirely different level” than what the previously planned U.S. radar base in Bohemia was to help avert.

“Such a system would not change the current situation at all. Moreover, our security is not threatened today,” Zaoralek told CTK on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), on his part, said for the Czech Republic the only possible foreign political path is to be a part of collective defense within NATO.

“If you ask me about the radar base … the KDU-ČSL supported its construction when the plan was discussed a few years ago,” Bělobrádek said.

The United States said the missile defense system, which it planned to build in the Czech Republic and Poland, would help protect Western Europe and particularly the United States from a possible attack with an inter-continental missile launched by a country hostile to the US, such as Iran.

Russia sharply opposed the plan.

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