Following is reaction to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that he is rolling back plans for an anti-missile shield based in Eastern Europe, which had drawn fierce opposition from Russia.
“We value the U.S. president’s responsible approach towards implementing our agreements ... I am ready to continue the dialogue.”
(When he meets Obama in New York on September 23) “we will have a good opportunity to exchange views on all aspects of strategic stability, including anti-missile defence.
“I believe that we will proceed with giving orders to the respective bodies in our two countries to step up cooperation
“We will work together to forge efficient measures to counter the risks of missile proliferation, measures that would allow us to take into account the interests and concerns of all parties and ensure equal security for all the nations in the European arena.”
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER
“I am pleased that, after today’s decision, we now have the possibility to again discuss the issue of missile defence in Europe with all partners.
“I have stressed from the outset: in the end we need more and not less collective security. Therefore, I have always been convinced that we must find common answers to common threats.
“The Obama administration’s move today is a signal to all partners that the American government aspires to such common solutions. That is the right way.”
“There could be two reasons behind such a decision, either the U.S. has reached the conclusion that Iran is not a threat, or the Russians may have convinced the Americans there is no need for such defence shield.”
“The decision of President Obama is an extremely wise decision. I say what I think ... From the point of view of the relationship between Europe and Russia, and between the Russia, Europe and the United States it is extremely positive.”
“There are no reasons for changes in our relationship with the United States. We are on a perfect level on bilateral basis and in the framework of NATO. We have strong allies and strong partners,” he said ahead of the pre-G20 summit of European Union leaders in Brussels on Thursday.
“It is no secret that this missile defence shield has been a thorn in Russia’s side. President Obama is clearly demonstrating his willingness to reset relations between our two countries, and the Russians should return the gesture. It is time for Russia to join our push to impose stricter sanctions on Iran in order to halt its nuclear weapons program.”
“President Obama’s decision also emboldens Russia and pulls the rug out from under our Polish and Czech Republic allies. They may try to call this hitting the reset button on our relationship with Russia. It looks more like retreat. The Russians will take our actions not as a sign of goodwill, but weakness.”
“This decision calls into question the security and diplomatic commitments the United States has made to Poland and the Czech Republic, and has the potential to undermine perceived American leadership in Eastern Europe.
“I would not say it will have an immediate impact on investment or most investment risks in the region. In the longer term, however, if the prospect of the missile shield goes away I would expect it to improve relations between central European countries and Moscow, probably reducing trade barriers and restrictions.”
“The decision will likely dent the popularity of the centre-right government in Poland, since the Polish population has been a stauncher supporter of missile defence from the beginning and the government has staked much of its credibility on a pro-US foreign policy.”
“The (Czech) Social Democrats (CSSD) have always opposed missile defence, as has a majority of the Czech population, and thus they will likely gain some support vis a vis ODS (Civic Democrats) at an especially crucial time ahead of elections (now likely to be in May 2010). It might be enough to crack the political stalemate between right and left that has caused the Czech Republic’s recent political incapacity.”
GOVERNMENT SIGNED THE MISSILE Defence DEAL:
“This is bad news ... after 20 years of our path into Euro-Atlantic structures and our very active involvement there, the process is being halted.”
IWONA JAKUBOWSKA-BRANICKA, SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR AT WARSAW
“I don’t think the enemy is just outside our gate. I don’t think this decision directly impacts Poland’s security status. ... We are within the EU, we are part of the truly democratic world and there is no direct threat to our borders from our neighbours, including Russia.”
“The Obama administration has mainly domestic problems now — the health reform — so I have the feeling they want to show they are able to listen to other parties in foreign policy.”
“Russia will not see it as a concession, but it will use it in propaganda on the domestic scene as a concession and it will talk about it as a diplomatic success.”
MARK FITZPATRICK, NON-PROLIFERATION SCHOLAR AT LONDON’S
“Iran does not today pose a missile threat to most of Europe and could not do so for several years, during which time the flight tests they would need to conduct would give ample warning.
“In addition, the planned locations in the Czech Republic and Poland are not ideal for protecting Europe. So from a technical point of view I am not surprised at all.”
Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Editing by Jon Boyle and Philip Barbara