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Respekt: PM’s trip to Russia not politically effective

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Prague, June 3 (CTK) – Czech politicians’s trips to Russia are only effective if they strengthen the country’s position of an independent, self-confident state that knows its advantages and Russia’s weakness and is not afraid to show this, but the PM’s visit was not like this, Marek Svehla writes in weekly Respekt.

Svehla writes in Respekt, out yesterday, that the late president Vaclav Havel (Czechoslovak head of state in late 1989-1992, Czech president 1993-2003) was refusing to fly to Russia. This was motivated by his effort not to be like previous communist puppets who were only reporting and answering to Moscow leaders, Svehla writes.

Havel was also guided by his instinct, sound caution, that proved justified with Vladimir Putin assuming power, Svehla writes.

He writes that Russia has not been friendly in relation to the Czech Republic. It despises its democratic system, the Czech secret services keep warning about the activities of Russian agents on Czech territory, Svehla writes.

He writes that Russia does not consider the Czech Republic worth even such a small amount of flexibility as making documents on the Czech communist past accessible, Svehla writes.

He writes that five years ago, Havel said in an interview with French television a new type of dictatorship, more sophisticated than the past ones, is ruling Russia.

This is a fitting description that time and reports from the country support, Svehla writes.

True, Russia is too important for Czechs to ignore it, but the primary Czech interest is to show Havel’s maximal self-confidence, sincerity and a sound strength, stemming from the Czechs’ democratic supremacy and anchoring in the European Union and NATO, Svehla writes.

A lesson to be learnt from the past says Russia perceives its surroundings as a space to be conquered and it is able to make use of every weakness that its partners may show, Svehla writes.

Government-supported deals can only be signed on the basis of this clearly articulated position that reflects the Czech interest, Svehla writes.

During his recent visit to Russia, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas did meet representatives of NGOs, but both Russian journalists and the activists said his stay with them was too short and formal, Svehla writes.

He writes that even though Necas considers the punishment of the Pussy Riot punk activists too hard, he first said they are not human rights fighters and that they deserve to be punished on principle, Svehla writes.

By the way, does Necas have any idea of that the Plastic People of the Universe, the widely recognised victims of the communist totalitarian regime in former Czechoslovakia, were no human rights fighters either? Svehla asks.

No one expected Necas to teach Havel-like lessons of the truth and love on his visit to Russia, but he should have made a sincere impression and be convincing in his siding with the freedom-loving part of Russian society, Svehla writes.

He writes that without this he only strengthened the reputation of the Czech Republic in the eyes of the Russian ruling circles as a downtrodden and servile nation which they knew in the past, Svehla writes.

Necas concentrated on trade and he was satisfied with the results, but he only could reach agreement on deals that depend on support of the power elite, which is, however, changeable, Svehla writes.

He writes that the implementation of the deals that have only been promised will probably depend on the decision on Temelin among others.

A Czech-Russian consortium is one of two bidders for the construction of another two blocs in the Czech nuclear power plant in Temelin. The other bidder for the giant project worth some 200 to 300 billion crowns is the Japanese-U.S. Westinghouse firm.

More and more Czech businesspeople have been openly calling for foreign policy taking into account Czech business interests and for refraining from any steps and commentaries that damage business, Svehla writes.

Necas has set out on this very dangerous path determined by lobbyists. From the point of view of the businesspeople’s calls Necas’s calculated giving in to the other side may be meaningful, but from the point of view of Czech democracy and sovereignty it is politically most imprudent, Svehla writes.

($1=19.769 crowns)

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