Russian President Medvedev in Prague
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrives in Prague on Wednesday at the invitation of Czech President Václav Klaus. His short visit will entail primarily meetings with President Klaus, who is often noted for his warm attitude towards Russia, and later on Thursday with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. There is plenty on the table for discussion among Czech and Russian leaders, namely business deals and Russia’s bid for the tender to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. Many of the milestones in the last decade of Czech-Russian relations however have been negative, with years of debate over the abandoned American missile defence plan and a spy scandal two years ago. Christian Falvey spoke with Petr Kratochvíl, one of the heads of Prague’s Institute of International Relations and an expert on Russia, who he first asked where relations stand now.
They are set to discuss missile defence again, what more do you think can be said on that topic at this point?
“Well, I’m convinced that this will not be a main part of the discussions here. As I said, the talks will focus more on the Temelín power plant. The main reason for this is that the Czech Republic has been sidelined to some extent in the missile defence project, and Russian diplomatic efforts now focus more on other countries that will play more important roles in the project.”
“I don’t believe that he can tip the scales. The problem is that he is lobbying in the wrong place, because President Klaus may be a long-time friend of Russia and very much in favour of Russia’s involvement in Czech politics and the economy, but he is not the figure that will decide about the result of the tender. So there is a big difference between the views of the president and the predominant mood in the Czech Parliament, which is rather sceptical of Russia, and in that regard I believe Russia stands almost no chance of winning the tender.”
Aside from missile defence and Temelín, what do you think this round of personal meetings with President Medvedev could bring to the future of Czech Russian relations?