US President George W. Bush arrives in the Czech Republic today for a visit that is expected to be stormy in public and tense in private. More than 60 per cent of Czechs pose America’s project to site new anti-missile radar in their country. Some are mobilising for demonstrations and the government is readying mobilising security forces to keep them in check.
The centre-right government says the Czech Republic needs to contribute more to European defence, although some members would prefer the radar to be part of an overall NATO defence scheme, and not just a deal with Washington.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek toured villages in the area around the probable site on Sunday, where residents have overwhelmingly rejected the plan in a referendum: “The matter requires a lot of time and communication with people,” he said.
But it seems local opinion is unlikely to change “Having the radars around here won’t do us any good. I’m not bothered, but my children must live here”, said one woman