NATO backs US missile defense plan, but critics remain unconvinced
NATO foreign ministers on Wednesday affirmed their support for US plans to install anti-missile defenses in central Europe saying that the deployment of a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland would make a "substantial contribution" to protecting Europe from the threat of long-range ballistic missiles. Despite the clear implication that the US missile defense components would be incorporated into European defense structures, the statement has left critics in the Czech Republic unconvinced.
“This confirms what we have striven for in the past year – to get favourable conditions in the deal with the US and to negotiate the radar’s inclusion into a future European missile-defense system. This has now been officially recognized.” However critics remain skeptical, pointing out that the wording of NATO’s statement is vague and fails to address the main concern surrounding the radar –that it will serve only American interests, do little to protect Europe and create more tension between Europe and Russia. One of the radar’s leading critics in the government, Education Minister Ondřej Liška of the Green Party, says his position remains unchanged.
Since the issue of Europe’s missile defense is on the agenda of a NATO summit in April of next year such a statement cannot be expected in the near future. Moreover, the radar’s fate primarily depends on the stand of the new US administration and President-elect Barack Obama has made it clear he would only support it if it were clear beyond doubt that the missile defense components in central Europe would really work.