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4 Sep, 2008 02:33

U.S. pushes through radar plans despite opposition in Czech Republic

The U.S. is to deliver the first funds to the Czech Republic for the construction of its controversial radar base at the end of this month according to reports in Czech media, The radar is to be linked to a missile base planned to be built in Poland. Howe

The country's Deputy Foreign Minister, Tomas Pojar, will visit the United States shortly to discuss security co-operation.

On the 40-year anniversary of the Prague Spring, when communist Warsaw Pact troops rolled their tanks into the Czech Republic to violently suppress the country's liberalisation, the Czech people are very conscious of the parallels.

They regard the U.S. missile base on their territory as yet another invasion by a foreign power.

In early July protesters marched through Prague when Condoleezza Rice came to sign the final treaty with her Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg. They held signs with the dates '1938, 1968, 2008', referring to what they consider the three invasions of the Czech Republic: by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev and U.S. President George Bush respectively.

Jan Neoral is the mayor of a village just a couple of kilometres away from the potential radar site, which is to be moved there from an atoll in the Pacific Ocean. He conducted his own local referendum: 99% of the residents were against the radar deployment.

“Recently our Minister for the Environment told Parliament that he doesn’t have the technical details for the radar, which still needs to be upgraded, so he can’t judge what influence it will have on people and nature. However, last year a state commission had already concluded the radar was safe! That simply means the state report was a lie!” said Neoral.

Neoral, who also happens to be a professionally qualified expert on radar, has independent reports which show that the harmful effects of the radar waves could extend as far as 100 kilometres.

Jaroslav Rampa and his wife live on the other side of the Brdy military compound. He helped gather signatures for a petition that he sent to Parliament.

“If you do nothing, you become an accomplice. And we have a lot to fight for!” he stressed.

“Just a while ago the Russians were moving their troops out of here with a lot of noise – our politicians were swearing that never ever again will there be a foreign army in our land. And look at us – just a few years have passed and our authorities are already pandering to the Americans, who just want to surround the Russians – it is obvious that it’s against Russia!” said Rampa.