Czech upper house approves missile shield
Issued on: Modified:
The Czech Senate has approved a bilateral agreement signed with Washington on stationing a US radar base on Czech soil as part of a controversial missile defence system that has enraged Russia.
The plan must still be cleared by the Czech lower house, where the government lacks a majority and the opposition is against the agreement.
"If I did not believe in the chances (that it gets approved in the lower house), I would not fight for it so much," Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told Reuters after the vote.
A final vote in the lower house is not expected at least until after the new
"At this point it is unlikely (to get approved in the lower house) but it would be more likely if ... Obama made some decision saying: we are going ahead with this ... Then a lot of these (opposition) left of centre deputies could be swayed," said Jiri Pehe, a political analyst at
The project has angered
The spat, along with the Russian intervention in
His likely Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton, has criticised what she called was the Bush administration's focus on "expensive and unproven missile defence technology".
Czech and Polish leaders have said they expected the new administration to go ahead with the plan.
The Polish parliament is expected to vote on the plan next year.
The missile defence project has also divided the Czech political scene and alienated the majority of the central European nation of 10.4 million, resentful of any foreign military presence -- even the less than 200-strong, allied
The centre-right Czech government, irritated by
The leftist opposition Social Democrats are against the shield, saying it is unnecessary and should not be built on the basis of a bilateral agreement with the
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said some in his right-wing Civic Democrat Party may hold up an unrelated vote on the EU's Lisbon Treaty, backed by the opposition, unless the opposition allows the radar treaties go through.
The government only has 96 votes in the 200-seat lower house, and needs the votes of independents and probably also some Social Democrats for the radar treaties to be approved.
Social Democrat chief Jiri Paroubek -- who had earlier said he had no problem with the missile defence deal but changed his position in light of strong public opposition -- has so far refused any arrangement allowing the radar treaties to go through.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe