Final Word from Thursday, July 31, 2003

The U.S. went to great effort to give Premier Vladimir Špidla the red-carpet treatment in Washington. Špidla threw a pail of cold water on it by telling Respekt that one trip can't change his views on the U.S. and that he respects Americans the way he respects Russians or anyone else. This raised eyebrows among Americans but was aimed at Czechs. Not everyone is happy about the cabinet's coziness with the U.S. During the Iraq crisis, Špidla also counterbalanced pro-U.S. comments with opposing remarks. Špidla is high on Washington's list of good guys mainly because he's still an ally of sorts in the war on terror. The Bush administration recently softened its negative stance on Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, because he offered to send troops to Iraq. Both Kuchma and Špidla have learned how to get what they want from Washington while giving back relatively little. Ukraine


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