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Czech President Says Freedoms Endangered, Not Climate

Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on August 2 (RFE/RL) PRAGUE, August 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Czech President Vaclav Klaus says individual freedoms are more endangered than the climate.

In a wide-ranging interview with RFE/RL, Klaus took aim at one of his favorite recent targets -- those calling for urgent action on global warming.

Klaus said some environmentalists were peddling a lie (click for full transcript) that there was a scientific consensus on the extent of man's impact on rising global temperatures and their consequences.

He said that "small" climate changes were being used to support far-reaching measures that would harm economic activity and human freedoms.

In the interview, Klaus also said opposition to a planned U.S. base near Prague must be respected, and that it was up to politicians to explain to the Czech public why they should play host.

Washington wants to place a radar station in the Czech Republic as part of a missile-defense system it says is aimed at countering potential threats from countries like Iran.

But polls show some two-thirds of Czechs oppose the plan.

Klaus said that was in part because people did not feel a clear enough threat, and that they weren't getting a sufficient explanation from politicians.

On what postcommunist members of the European Union could -- or should -- do to help democracy movements further east, Klaus said the idea of exporting democracy or revolutions was a "fantasy" that mostly ended badly.

And on the EU, Klaus affirmed his position as an outspoken critic of closer integration. He said he advocated further EU expansion because the more members it has "the weaker the power of Brussels will be."

Global Climate Change

Global Climate Change

View a photo gallery summarizing some key findings of the Stern report on the economic costs of global warming (epa)

THE STERN REPORT: In October, former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern issued a 700-page report on the economic impact of global warming. The report, which was commissioned by the British government, estimates that climate change could cost between 5 and 20 percent of global GDP by the end of the century....(more)


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RFE/RL's coverage of the environment.