The ink was barely dry on a controversial missile defence deal signed by the US and the Czech Republic before the repercussions began to make themselves felt.
The NATO-endorsed plan finalises the details for a radar base on Czech soil, but is opposed by more than two thirds of the Czech people and faces a rough ride through Parliament. Related talks with neighbouring Poland are currently deadlocked.
Undaunted, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described today’s signing as a step forward for global security: “This missile defence agreement is significant as a building block not just for the security of the United States and the Czech Republic, but for the security of Nato and ultimately for the security of the international community as a whole.”
But not everyone agrees. Large-scale demonstrations have been planned for Prague city centre.
Meanwhile the Kremlin, always a staunch opponent of the idea, says today’s signing cancels out all parallel discussions which have taken place with Washington to date.