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19 Sep, 2009 03:34

Czechs relieved of radar base and democracy, too

About 60 km south of Prague, the people in Trokavec say they can now rest easy after winning a 2 year fight against the planned US anti-missile defence system.

Feelings of relief and happiness have settled on this small Czech village in the Brdy mountains following the announcement by Barack Obama on missile defence, which was met with mixed reactions across Europe, where some politicians voiced anger and others relief that the U.S. missile defence was shelved.

Its radar base was going to be located just 2 kilometers from Trokavec, something villagers fiercely opposed.

Local residents told RT they are really happy and welcome the U.S. decision with open arms now that the radar will not be there, because “world problems shouldn’t be solved by placing radars” – near their homes and because, for them, “the radar would not bring anything positive”.

And they’re not alone in their opinion – around 70 other Czechs were against hosting the missile shield in their country.

The base was going to be built in a vast expanse of forest, which is actually a military zone, but nearby residents feared it was a threat to their health and safety and perhaps could make the Czech Republic vulnerable to attack from outside states. Unlike in neighbouring Poland, the Czech Republic never felt it needed the anti-missile defense system to boost their national security and, instead, felt they had all the protection they needed from being a member of NATO.

Despite strong objections, the Czech government chose not to hold a national referendum on the issue. So local villages took the matter into their own hands, to ensure their voices were heard.

“I created the League of Mayors which had 57 members from surrounding villages. We took our fight all over Europe to convince the governments and parliaments that we are totally against the AMD system, despite what our own leadership was saying,” says Jan Neoral, the mayor of Trokavec.

And while their cause has now been won, some still feel disappointed in the way their own government handled the issue.

Jan Tamas, from the “Non-Violence” movement, says “we are a little bit disappointed that it had to be the U.S. government that brought that project to an end and that it was not the Czech government that has been for years ignoring the will of the majority of Czechs.”

“This is really a sad day for democracy in our country, that our future had to be decided outside of our country,” Tamas declares.

But overall there’s been a smooth acceptance, both politically and socially, to the news that the radar base is no more.

So for the residents of Trokavec, its time to breath a sigh of relief and get back to more pressing matters at hand.