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Prague warns of Kremlin ambition


Rozhovor redaktorů Quentina Peela a Stefana Wagstyla s ministrem Schwarzenbergem v deníku Financial Times ze dne 19.7. 2007 (v angličtině)

Russia wants to regain the super-power status the Soviet Union once had to determine the future of Europe, according to the Czech foreign minister.
Karel Schwarzenberg said that although Russia was not an imminent threat it could become one in five to 10 years' time.

"Maybe Russia will be a threat once more," he told the Financial Times. "In the last few months there have been some rather surprising occurrences."
He added: "Russia would like to achieve the same status [vis-a-vis America] that the former Soviet Union had. Then the two of them, Washington and Moscow, would be the two to decide European issues. I am very sorry, but we consider that is our affair too."

The Czech foreign minister's main concerns are Russia's opposition to basing stations for the planned US missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland, and the wider issue of energy security in the EU.

Prince zu Schwarzenberg, an independent member of the Czech government nominated by the Green party, comes from an aristocratic family and his parents fled Czechoslovakia in 1948 when the Communists took over. He feels he is an instinctive European.

"Thank God the Soviet empire suffered an implosion," Prince zu Schwarzenberg said. "Then we were free, which is the most miraculous event of my life. But the fact is that things were simpler then [during the Cold War]. Now everything has become much more complicated."

He said Moscow's decision to suspend the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, in protest at the US missile defence plans, was "very sad and disappointing".

"We can understand that Russia is claiming its former position of superpower," he said earlier in a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "However, we are scared by a strategy oriented more on prestige and on building military might instead of investing in civil infrastructure. With this strategy, I am afraid that Russia will once again end up as a giant with feet of clay."

He warned that Russia had an advantage over its neighbours. "The Russians have always thought much more in long-term and strategic considerations than other European states. Other European states [go] from one election to another, and think more about tactics."

He added that it was essential that Europe develop a common energy policy towards Russia.