The world´s eyes were on the Czech Republic this week as US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met in Prague on April 8 to a sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty. Expats.cz has updated their preview article to explain how the big event went.
It was signed. Under the new deal, both countries will be limited to 1550 nuclear warheads; a 30% reduction from the number allowed under the first START treaty signed back in 2002. Before putting pen to paper, the two leaders met privately to discuss nuclear issues in Iran and the recent violence in Kyrgyzstan.
While traffic was obviously disrupted as the two leaders travelled around and Prague Castle was closed, most reports had the day moving smoothly and security did their job.
At a press conference after the signing, Obama said: “While the new START treaty is an important step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. As I said last year in Prague, this treaty will set the stage for further cuts. And going forward, we hope to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing both our strategic and tactical weapons, including non-deployed weapons.”
While Medvedev left last night, Obama stayed on to dine at the US Ambassador’s residence in Prague 6 with 11 heads of state from central and eastern European countries. The main goal of the dinner was to reassure regional countries that the US’s increasing ties with Russia would not affect the relationship between the US and the region. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer spoke with reporters following the meeting and said that the leaders expressed a desire that the US President “respect interest of the region” when it came to his policy with Russia.
Wonder what was on the menu? Chicken. Seems it was the only dish that satisfied the dietary requests and requirements of all invited. At a lunch after the signing, Obama and Medvedev feasted on beef steak with mushrooms and dumplings. Obama took the possibility of an unhealthy Czech lunch to heart, with a visit to his hotel’s fitness room. Other guests working the machines at the Prague Hilton were quite surprised to be sharing some sweat time with a world leader.
The No to Bases group (the group formed to protest the planned deployment of a US anti-missile shield on Czech terrority) got a protest in when ten members of the organziation held a rally outside Prague Castle yesterday. They were joined by a few members from World Without Wars and Violence as well.
Both leaders publically thanks the Czechs for their allowing the treaty to be signed in Prague. Medvedev said: “I would especially like to thank the Czech Republic’s leadership and Mr President for having invited us to hold the signing ceremony here in Prague, in a lovely city in this lovely spring weather.”
Obama said: “Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be back in this beautiful city of Prague. The Czech Republic, of course, is a close friend and ally of the United States. And I have great admiration and affection for the Czech people. Their bonds with the American people are deep and enduring.”
Obama met with both Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jan Fischer this morning before flying back to Washington.
Czech politicians claimed a big coup with Prague being chosen as the site for this historic signing. The Czech Foreign Ministry released a press release that said “as a NATO ally, the Czech Republic is proud and honored to host an event of such a historical and symbolic significance one year after President Obama’s first visit to Prague, during which he introduced his vision of a world without nuclear weapons and emphasized the need to strengthen our alliance.”
If you are interested in reading more information about the treaty, Obama’s remarks after the signing plus photos click here to go to the website of the US Embassy in Prague.