Prague, 25 March 2009
Yesterday, the government of Czech conservative Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was challenged in Parliament by a motion tabled by the social democratic opposition. This is a great victory for the non-violent anti-base movement in the Czech Republic, which sees its real chances of opposing the installation of the US military radar base growing.
The Czech government is formed by the ODS, the right-wing party with a relative majority, a small group of Christian Democrats and the Greens. The reasons for the vote of no-confidence are many: the unpopular measures taken in the field of the health system contributed to the opposition’s victory, as did the scepticism expressed towards the European Union, but the decisive element was the conflict generated in Czech civil society over the installation of a US military base within the space shield project. scudo spaziale.
Seventy per cent of the population is against the presence of foreign troops on their territory. The popular protest, which has been going on for more than two years, has challenged the government on several occasions and strengthened the opposition parties: the regional elections held last autumn saw the collapse of the majority parties.
“Jan Tamas, president of the Czech Humanist Party and leader of the protest against the radar base, says: “The great work of awareness-raising, mobilisation and information over the last few years has made many deputies of the opposition realise the danger of the space shieldand many members of the Green Party realise that they were pursuing a policy far removed from the position of the European Greens. The fall of the government was possible mainly thanks to two Green deputies who distanced themselves from the militarist positions of their party.
The installation of the US military base has been one of the most emotive issues for Czech society in recent years. The hunger strike by Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar in May 2008 created a strong stir among the people: since then, a relay hunger strike has been going on throughout the country. Scientists, academics, actors, filmmakers, sportsmen, parliamentarians from different political camps and the deputy speaker of parliament have joined this protest, and a league of mayors against radar has formed.
‘Perhaps the international media will present the fall of the Czech government as the result of the usual political games,’ Jan Tamas continues, ‘this is partly true, the economic crisis is an important issue. But the fall of the government represents above all the victory of democracy, disarmament and non-violent struggle. Without our protest, the government would never have fallen. Our people do not want foreign troops on their territory; now the United States will have to revise their plans. It is a victory of the people and not of the politicians. “.
The Czech activists would like their example to be followed in the other countries involved in the Space Shield project – Italy, Great Britain, Japan and India – to develop a broad opposition to ‘star wars’ and in favour of nuclear disarmament. Especially the construction of the space shieldin India could increase tensions with Pakistan, and both countries have nuclear arsenals.
Prime Minister Topolanek, interviewed by the Novinky newspaper immediately after the no-confidence expressed in his government, reiterated his certainty that the future government would follow the path of ratifying the treaty with the United States. On this possibility Jan expressed his doubts: “after the pressure generated by the hunger strike, the Social Democratic Party had to take a clear position in our favour, which makes it more difficult for them to change their opinion on the radarissue in the future.”
On 26 March Jan Tamas will be in Italy, where he will take part in the meeting ‘For a Europe of Peace. Mayors, MEPs and movements: the star shield involves us’.
Thursday 26 March, 8.30 p.m., House of Peace of the Province of Milan.
Europe for Peace