Global Policy Forum

Czech Fears Over Missile Defence Radar

June 6, 2007

Vaclav Hudec is mayor of the Czech village of Stitov, which is situated close to the site of a proposed radar station which the US plans to build as part of its controversial missile defence system. Here, he describes the main concerns of people in the area.

Everyone in my village - which has a population of 44 - objects to the plans to construct a missile defence radar station. Our main concern is health. People are very worried about the effect any radiation from the radar could have on their health and we have not been given enough information. We have also had very little information on what kind of radar will be built, although we have been told that there will be more than one. Several experts have told us that people's soft tissue - specifically the eyes - could be affected up to certain distance. That is all we know.

Having part of a US missile system on the doorstep also increases the possibility of a terrorist attack or an attack from another country. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989 our primary goal was to get rid of the Russian army. We succeeded and the occasion was marked by our political leaders saying that we will not accommodate any other foreign soldiers or foreign army base again. Unfortunately this seems to have been forgotten a mere 15 years later.

We are holding our own referendum on the issue on 9 June. We've had enough. What our government is doing is unbelievable. Demonstrations in Prague have shown that the whole nation is interested in the problem, not just the people who are directly affected locally. I am 100% sure the building of a missile defence system here and in Poland could contribute to a new Cold War. We are worried about the real intentions of the US. The radar is not meant to protect Europe. According to some military analysts, Europe would not have enough time to react in the event of a missile attack, but the US would.

We feel the US doesn't care if there is a conflict in our country as long as it's not in their's. The only way to solve this very difficult situation is to withdraw from the agreement. At least it will ease our relationship with Russia. Put simply, I don't go around upsetting my neighbours and they don't go upsetting me. If there is a disagreement it is important to discuss it and not threaten each other. That's what needs to happen in this instance.

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