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The Czech Social Democratic Opposition rejects the mission in Afghanistan


(B2) The Social Democratic Party (CSSD), the main opposition party in the Czech Republic, will not support the foreign missions of the Czech army in 2009. This was confirmed this Wednesday by party leader Jiří Paroubek the CTK press agency tells us. According to the latter, the government, which declares itself in the majority, cannot ask the opposition parties to replace the deputies of the government parties. Lubomír Zaorálek, social democratic vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies, even rejected the assertion of Karel Schwarzenberg, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, according to which “the Czech mission in Afghanistan is in the interest of the state (Czech )”.

This position – already displayed in the past – comes against a backdrop of toughening discussion around the ratification of two international treaties by the Czech Republic: the Treaty of Lisbon and the anti-missile shield. While the deal was simple: between the opposition (wishing the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty) and the majority (wishing the ratification of the anti-missile treaty), it was give and take: you ratify “my” text, I ratify “ yours". Yes but… while the anti-missile shield ratification passed the Senate, the agreement was broken in the Chamber of Deputies on the Lisbon Treaty. The majority apparently did not find the votes within itself to vote for the Lisbon Treaty in the Chamber of Deputies (120 votes out of 200 are needed) and it was the opposition which had to provide the missing votes. With a risk: that the text barely passes. Everyone therefore decided to postpone the text at the beginning of February. Which is bad news, just a stone's throw from the Czech presidency of the EU taking office.

The social democratic opposition decided to show its bad mood. Hence this outing on the Czech foreign missions – moreover little appreciated by public opinion. As for the ratification of the anti-missile shield in the Chamber of Deputies. We are waiting for its postponement. The Czech Republic, and the ruling ODS party, however, is playing with fire. The Obama administration might not be in a big hurry to take immediate action on the anti-missile shield: on the one hand, for internal strategic reasons (the financing of the American anti-missile agency, its very objectives could be reviewed and redefined, all part of a possible redefinition of American defense); on the other hand, the new administration could want to reconnect with Russia, at least try to renew ties in the first months. Positioning itself straight away, categorically, on the anti-missile shield could force a rapid standoff. By delaying the ratification of the anti-missile shield, the Czechs risk delaying it for a few years...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Photo: Topolanek (Prime Minister) Schwarzenberg (Foreign Affairs) Vondra (European Affairs) in the Chamber of Deputies (CTK)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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