Russian President Dmitry Medvedev traveled to Prague earlier this month to sign a deal with Czech President Vaclav Klaus establishing a joint venture on the exchange of civilian nuclear technology. In an email interview, Petr Kratochvíl, deputy director of the Institute of International Relations in Prague, discussed Russia-Czech Republic relations.
WPR: What is the nature of Russia-Czech Republic relations since the end of the Cold War?
Petr Kratochvíl: Roughly speaking, we can distinguish three fundamental phases. The first covers the period from the Velvet Revolution in 1989 to around 1994 and included the dissolution of both the Warsaw Treaty and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance as well as the removal of the Soviet army from Czechoslovak territory. While relations were very friendly in this period, they started to deteriorate as soon as Czechoslovakia -- and from 1993 on, the Czech Republic -- announced its wish to enter both the European Union and NATO. The second phase, which lasted from 1994 to 1999, culminated with the Czech Republic’s entry into NATO and was characterized by a “cold peace” between the two countries. The third period can be described as being characterized by growing pragmatism on both sides, improving trade relations and a gradual normalization, which however has been disturbed by regular ups and downs.