The Constitutional Court has postponed a final verdict on whether the
EU’s Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech law until next Tuesday. The
court held a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, in response to a
petition filed a month ago by a group of senators loyal to the Eurosceptic
Czech president, Václav Klaus. They say Lisbon would threaten Czech
The Czech Republic is the only state in the EU not to have completed ratification of the Lisbon treaty. If the Constitutional Court gives it the green light, President Klaus would be obliged to put his signature to ratification. However, Mr Klaus is demanding that the Czech Republic receive an opt-out from Lisbon’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. He says that otherwise Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after Word War II could seek to reclaim property.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, is hoping to secure a deal with EU leaders in Brussels later this week under which the opt-out would be granted, if Mr Klaus promises to sign Lisbon. The president’s office said on Tuesday that his chancellor Jiří Weigl would be in the Czech delegation at the summit.
Austrian courts do not have jurisdiction over the Temelín nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. That verdict came in response to a complaint against Temelín’s operators ČEZ filed by the Upper Austrian regional authority at an Austrian court. It said Temelín was guilty of causing damage to farm land at a school owned by Upper Austria in the vicinity of the nuclear station. The Austrian court then asked the European Court of Justice to consider whether it was obliged to respect a permit issued to Temelín by authorities in the Czech Republic. The nuclear power station, which is situated close to the Austrian border, has for several years been a source of tension between the two countries.
An extensive outdoor exhibition about 20th century Czech history has been unveiled in Prague marking two decades since the fall of communism. Entitled My jsme to nevzdali (We Never Gave In), it features 150 panels at various locations in the centre of the Czech capital from Prague Castle to Wenceslas Square. Launching the project on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said it would help disprove clichés about Czechs having a tendency to give in without a fight. As well as information panels detailing the fates of individuals, the exhibition features a replica of a labour camp guard-tower, across the street from Malostranská metro station, and a freight wagon on Wenceslas Square.
The Social Democrats have the highest support among Czech voters, suggests a new opinion poll carried out by the STEM agency. The left-wing party enjoy 26.2 percent backing, one percentage point more than their main rivals, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. 11.6 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Communists, with 8.7 declaring support for the new party TOP 09. The Christian Democrats and the Greens would not gain the necessary 5 percent of votes to enter the Czech Parliament, the survey indicates.
Meanwhile, another poll suggests the leader of TOP 09 Karel Schwarzenberg is the most popular politician in the Czech Republic. In a CVVM poll carried out this month the blue-blooded former foreign minister had an approval rating of 43 percent. Second in the survey was the Social Democrats former finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka, with 38 percent approval. TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek, also a former foreign minister, tied with the Greens former education minister Ondřej Liška in third place: both had approval ratings of 31 percent in the poll.
Ten people have contracted swine flu at a secondary school in České Budějovice, a spokesperson for the regional hygiene authority said on Tuesday. The 10 include two employees and eight pupils at the school; they were found to have the disease after a school trip to Bavaria. The freshly detected cases are not serious and all of those infected are recovering at home. Last week the Czech Republic saw its first swine flu death, when a woman with heart problems died in Karlovy Vary after catching the H1N1 virus.
Czech President Václav Klaus is set to hand out 23 state honours on Wednesday evening, which is the day of Czech statehood, marking the 91st anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. Mladá fronta Dnes reported that Mr Klaus had been expected to bestow more honours this year, given that it is the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism. Some names of recipients have leaked this year, including the singer Karel Gott. Six hundred people have been invited to Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall for Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
Czech dairy farmers are planning to pour half a million litres of milk onto the ground at eight locations around the country on Thursday, in protest at what they say is the low price they are currently receiving. Farmer’s group representative Kamil Vystavěl told the CTK news agency that the situation in the milk business was serious and had not been addressed for over a year; he said some producers could go out of business due to the low prices.
The Czech writer Miroslav Švandrlík has died at the age of 77. He was one of the country’s most popular humorous authors, perhaps best known for Černí baroni (Black Barons). The novel depicts life in a section of the army created in the 1950s as a kind of prison for people the communist regime considered unreliable. Švandrlík was himself in that “service”. The book Černí baroni was banned by the communist authorities and could only be read in a samizdat version. However, after 1989 a film version became a big success, leading to a popular TV series.
The Constitutional Court will hold a public hearing on Tuesday on the compatibility of the EU’s Lisbon treaty with the Czech constitution and Czech law. The court is addressing a complaint put forward by a group of right-wing senators last month. The senators have challenged that the treaty, which is aimed at reforming the running of the 27-member EU, will unduly limit Czech sovereignty through the transfer of power to Brussels. The Czech Republic is the only member country to not yet have ratified the document, although it was approved by both houses of Parliament. President Václav Klaus has conditioned his signing of the treaty to the country’s exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights (over fears the document could pave the way for property claims by the country’s former ethnic German minority, expelled after World War II). The Constitutional Court’s General Secretary Tomáš Langášek has said it is impossible to anticipate whether the court will issue a ruling on Tuesday or adjourn the ruling until a later date.
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