Thursday, 24 April 2014

HN: Czech leaders preferred Obama's rivals in both cases

23 November 2012

Prague, Nov 22 (CTK) - It is a public secret that the Czech government wanted the defeated candidate to win the U.S. presidential election for the second time in a row, Daniel Anyz writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) daily Thursday in connection with the re-election of Barack Obama who beat Republican Mitt Romney.

On Tuesday, Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra met U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in Washington, Anyz notes. This was in fact the first meeting of a Czech top representative with a member of the "new" American administration, he says.

Anyz recalls that in 2008 then Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek and Vondra, then deputy prime minister for EU affairs, preferred John McCain as a better guarantee of a Republican, more sceptical attitude to Russia, as opposed to Obama's inexperienced idealism, against which Czech diplomats and politicians warned.

These reservations were repeated when Obama scrapped George W. Bush's plan for an anti-missile radar base near Prague in 2009 and the Czech participation in the new missile defence architecture became nil, Anyz writes.

Given the great effort Topolanek and Vondra exerted to promote the missile defence base highly unpopular among Czech citizens, it can be understood that their relation to the Obama administration was full of mistrust and reluctance, Anyz says.

But it is less understandable if this resentment reappears and results in the view that "Romney would be much better" which could be heard from both the foreign and defence ministries, Anyz says.

Why should Romney be better? Because he labelled Russia the No.1 geopolitical enemy of the United States? he asks.

If so, then good luck with Romney, Anyz writes with irony, adding that Romney changed his positions on so many major issues during his campaign that not even his aides, comprising veterans of the administration of Bush Jr and Bush Sr in foreign policy affairs, would guarantee in which direction would Romney be heading.

And even if Romney was so critical of Russia, would this really imply that a big U.S.-Czech cooperation project would be launched? Anyz asks.

This cannot be ruled out, yet it seems far more probable that, like Obama, Romney, too, would have to first of all focus on home politics if he was elected president, Anyz writes.

And Romney could not have shifted his foreign attention elsewhere than Obama whose first trip abroad after re-election was to Asia. Romney, too, would have had to send his secretary of state to the Middle East where tension was mounting even during the Asian visit, Anyz writes.

The American priorities are simply set in this way and it is no escape from Europe, he points out.

The opinion that Romney would pay more attention to Central Europe and former Soviet satellite states may be justified in some areas, such as in energy security, but the belief that "real" friendship with the Americans would be restored under Romney is a nostalgia after the big missile defence plans rather than a fact-based analysis, Anyz writes.

He says the Czech-American relations are lacking a big concept, but this concept would not have come with Romney either.

Instead of "what if" wishful thinking, the opportunity of the established contacts should be used, Anyz concludes.

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