Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 16:51 UK

US missile U-turn: Poles and Czechs react

President Barack Obama has announced that the US is to abandon its controversial plan to build a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Here residents of both countries react to the announcement.

Vaclav Hudec

As mayor of a village situated close to the site of a proposed US missile defence radar station, I am pleased with this decision, as are the people of our village.

There were fears here over people's health from the potential effects of radiation, but the bigger concern was over our safety, and not just in the vicinity of the potential radar site, but the country as a whole.

Anybody with some knowledge about wars understands that the first thing the enemy will try to do is to destroy the radar system.

Of course nobody would be able to guess how it would happen, but I do think that one has to consider the worst possible scenario.

I am convinced that if it had gone ahead, it would have led to another cold war.

Not everyone in the area will welcome the decision, however.

There are some naive people who believed that it would have created extra jobs.

But that's the way it goes, you can't always satisfy everybody.

We live in a democratic society and therefore we must respect the voice of the majority and its laws.

I don't think that our relations with Russia, or the US, will change fundamentally as a result of all this, but I do think that relations between Russia and the US will improve because of this decision.


Mikolaj Dorozola

I am very happy about this decision.

I am a local city councillor living in a town that is only about 200km from where this missile defence system was meant to be situated.

Many people here and in the area planned to house it, Pomorze, were very worried about this plan.

People were scared it would make us more of a target for terrorists and extremists.

It was only being built to protect the US, but it did not bring any safety to us, only danger. It would have made us less, not more, safe.

Our government was also trying to tell us that supporting this plan and continuing to send our troops to Iraq would be good for us financially, because we would be guaranteed contracts and so on, but we got nothing.

We were also concerned about our relations with Russia.

I don't think they have been severely affected by this, but we do need to find some common ground with Russia after this to be able to move forward.

It was a bad idea and I feel we are more safe now because of the US's decision to abandon it.


In Poland this move by the Obama administration is viewed as a total failure and a sign of weakness, especially in the eyes of Russia.

Our relationship with Russia has been seriously damaged and now we have ended up with nothing
Zbigniew Hryniewicz, Zlocienic, Poland

In my opinion, the Americans have totally screwed us over.

It's a gigantic lose-lose situation for Poland and the Czech Republic.

Because of this whole deal with the US, our relationship with Russia has been seriously damaged and now we have ended up with nothing.

For my country it would be better if the US still had Bush as president, because he would not bow before Russia, like Obama is about to.


John Van Houten

This move is positive and expected.

After Obama was elected it, I was waiting for him to abandon these plans.

I just felt it was a leftover from the Bush administration and I only ever thought it was simply a way of antagonising Russia.

Some people here were happy to go against Russia, but nobody really wanted this missile defence system.

It can only improve US-Russia relations in the long run, but Russia won't easily forgive and forget.

It will also reduce a lot of tensions that were created by the plan.

There was no real financial benefit to the Czech Republic either.

The only benefit, it seemed, was to be able to pick a side and show whose side we were on.

This is why the Czech and Polish governments were so eager to allow the system on their soil in the first place.

Interviews by Stephen Fottrell, with partial translation by Mirka Higgins.

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