As of today, it seems that the Czechs are more successful versus the Poles in the ABM bargaining. In particular, in exchange of installation of the US ABM radar they already got free-travel regime with the USA and the same rights with this respect as the Old World citizens have. In this context, Czech Foreign Minister Y. Langer and US Secretary for Home Security M. Chertoff already signed a respective memorandum in Washington.
Evidently, the Poles also would like to have the visa regime abolished by Washington. But the Americans are concerned over inflow of labor migrants from Poland and do not snap it up.
But instead the Poles are getting other benefit from America. According to the Polish mass media as quoted to the spokesman of the Polish Foreign Ministry, Washington is going to agree shortly with a Warsaw’s condition on provision of assistance for upgrade of the Polish Armed Forces. Poland needs 20 billion US Dollars to re-equip the Polish national air defense with American “Patriots”. On February 27, Foreign Minister R. Sikorsky confirmed that the US Ambassador to Poland said on behalf of US Secretary of State C. Rice that Washington intends as soon as possible to solve a problem relating to provision of assistance to Poland for upgrade of its national armed forces.
In turn, Polish Minister of Defense B. Klich expressed his hope that the USA will supply new AD systems including “Patriots”. According to him, the United States made a step forward at the talks with Poland however Poland expects that the American party would go further. The Minister believes that the Polish leadership is aware of danger represented by the US ABM base for the national security therefore the Government is very prudent in this matter. Polish Prime Minister D. Tusk expressly claimed that “the decision (on ABM shield) depends on the benefits that may be received from this project by his country but not only by the USA”. Perhaps, the question is not only about American assistance in the upgrade of the Polish Armed Forces and establishment of closer military cooperation but also about other “benefits” for the Polish state.
The on-going ABM bargaining is confirmed also by the results of the Czech Premier visit to Washington. According to mass media, this round of the talks between Czech Prime Minister M. Topolanek and American party failed. After the talks US President G. Bush said that he still fails to reach an agreement with Prague on installation of the US radar within the framework of the deployed ABM shield. In so doing he intimated that the parties are close to the agreement. As quoted to M. Topolanek, only three words hamper signing the agreement between the USA and Czech Republic – “harsh ecological legislation”. In other words, Prague demands from the Americans strictly comply with the ecological standards when operating the radar. However, experts believe that in fact there are much more words. One of the critical pending problems is a status of American militaries operating the radar in Czech Republic. Prime Minister M.
Topolanek spoke in favor of early launching the project. According to him, the agreement on installation of the US ABM radar in Czechia may be signed in April at the NATO Summit in Bucharest (Romania) or just after it.
A visit of Polish Prime Minister D. Tusk is expected to Washington shortly. During the visit the parties will discuss final details of the Polish-American ABM agreement. But it is not doubtful also that at these talks the Polish party will make efforts not only to receive guarantees of Polish security at the expense of the USA but also to gain maximum profit from this project.
Unfortunately, as before, the parties of the ABM bargaining do not respect the opinion of the people in Poland and Czechia, and all problems are solved on the level of the top political establishment. It is clear that no referendums will be held on this matters because the authorities know well that the majority of the Poles and Czechs will be against the mad plans of the rulers, and the authorities will not be able to ignore it. For example, Polish Prime Minister D. Tusk denying the Poland-wide referendum on deployment of US ABM systems in the Polish territory was self-critical to claim that “it is difficult to convince the people in peacetime on the need to increase defense expenditures”.
Meanwhile, residents of the city of Slupsk sent a letter to Prime Minister D. Tusk to express their protest against deployment of the US ABM base near Redzikovo (4 km from Slupsk). The residents have their own plans on the use of the territory, and these plans fail to conform with those of the Government. But the Government does not care. Residents of the village of Brdy locating 50 km south-westwards of Prague also are not delighted with the plan to install the ABM radar.
The majority of Poles and Czechs understand that the deployment of the US strategic potential elements in their territories make their countries real targets for the missiles of the state, against which these US ABM systems are directed.
It is notable that not all roses are in the relations between Czech Republic and Poland under the ABM project. On March 2, Czech Prime Minister M. Topolanek criticized the Government of Poland for its stand with respect to the US ABM base. In particular, the Czech Premier believes that the demands of the Polish party at the Polish-American talks are overstated , and therefore the signing of the Polish-American agreement may be delayed that in turn will delay implementation of the ABM project in general.
The uncertain domestic political situation in the USA associated with the president election also affects the environment and contents of the ABM bargaining. In this context, experts explain the delays of the ABM talks by the Poles and Czechs with the concerns of Prague and Warsaw that as soon as the Bush Administration resigns, the East European ABM project will be rolled back. For example, one thing if after six months Democrat Obama who speaks expressly against this project, becomes the President, another thing, if Republican McCain wins the presidential election. In the first case the Poles and Czechs will get nothing from the bargaining, whereas in the second case Warsaw and Prague are going to gain the maximum profit from the deployment of the US ABM systems in Eastern Europe. Time will tell if their luck changes. Meanwhile the ABM bargaining is going on.