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24 Nov, 2008 13:20

Czech mayors call on Obama to drop AMD plans

Czech mayors have urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to drop Washington’s defence plans in Eastern Europe. They say it might turn the continent into a battlefield of international conflict.

Mayors of thirty towns in the Czech Republic sent a letter to Obama expressing their concerns over the U.S. plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile shield in the country putting most of the population at risk of being involved in any potential conflict.

“We kindly ask you to reassess the attitude of the U.S. government towards the placement of NMD [National Missile Defense] elements in Europe and to put a stop to this very dangerous and unstable project. We hope that the change so strongly symbolized by your victory will turn into reality, that the new American leadership can move us all in the direction of a world without wars and violence, and that the tendency towards the escalation of arms and military aggression will be replaced instead by investment into areas that contribute to real human development,” the letter says.  

The U.S. wants to place a radar base in the Czech Republic and missiles in neighbouring Poland to counter possible strikes from Iran and North Korea.

The issue has caused major tensions between Russia and the U.S. with Moscow seeing it as a threat to its national security.

Jan Tamás is the spokesperson of the Non-violence Movement in the Czech Republic, and the first to have signed the mayors' appeal. He says Barack Obama should know Washington's plans are splitting the country.

“We are very afraid of the consequences of the placement of these U.S. military bases in our country and in Poland. This will certainly increase and is already increasing international tensions. It’s upsetting Russia, it’s dividing Europe and it’s leading to a new arms race,” he said.   

Tamás says the deployment of the anti-missile shield would deteriorate the security situation in Europe rather than increase it as the U.S. government claims.