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Czech President Tells RFE/RL of Opposition to U.S. Radar Base

(Prague, Czech Republic--August 3, 2007) Czech president Vaclav Klaus says most Czechs oppose plans for a U.S. radar base near Prague because they don't understand the reasons for it and that this opposition must be respected.

Klaus commented in an exclusive interview given to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) August 2, in his office in the Hradcany Prague Castle. He noted that latest polls suggest two thirds of Czechs oppose a U.S. plan to put a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense system, saying "this opposition should be respected, it is real."

In a reference to more than 20 years of Soviet military occupation of then Czechoslovakia, Klaus said "people have their own historical experience and will always be against having large military bases nearby." He said another reason is that for Czechs, Iran and North Korea are very far away and "people don't feel a clear enough danger."

In the wide-ranging interview, Klaus also criticized what he called "ridiculous and undignified hysteria in the U.S. and western Europe" to global warming. He said he plans to give "a very tough speech" at a UN conference on global warming to be held in New York in September before the opening of the UN General Assembly.

A transcript of the interview, by RFE/RL correspondents Jeremy Bransten and Kathleen Moore, can be found on the RFE/RL website.