Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek says there are two choices before the
Czech Republic: accept the European Union’s Lisbon treaty, or become a
vassal of Moscow. In an article in the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes, he
said it was better to be in than out of the EU, which like NATO could be a
barrier to Russia’s imperial ambitions. He said President Václav Klaus,
one of Lisbon’s most vocal critics, had had to make a similar choice when
he signed an association agreement with the EU when he was Czech prime
Mr Klaus is regarded as being relatively pro-Russian in his views. He is close to the anti-Lisbon Pavel Bém, who is standing against Mr Topolánek in a vote for the leadership of the Civic Democratic Party in two weeks’ time.
The Czech Republic is one of the few states in the European Union not to have ratified the Lisbon treaty, which is aimed at reforming how the bloc is run. The Czech Parliament is expected to vote on ratification during the first quarter of next year; that is, during the country’s first presidency of the EU.
Two nationalist groups says they will demonstrate against the Lisbon treaty next Tuesday, when the Constitutional Court rules on whether the document is in line with the Czech constitution. Law and Justice and the National Party say it will be a quiet, symbolic protest. Demonstrations are banned within 100 metres of the Constitutional Court.
The small far-right grouping the Workers’ Party are planning another protest in Litvínov, where they clashed with police on Monday after attempting to attack a largely Romany neighbourhood. The spokesperson who announced the follow-up demonstration said only that it would take place in the near future. On Monday, a state holiday, hundreds of Workers’ Party members fought a three-hour pitched battle with police in the north Bohemian town, after they were barred from entering the Janov estate; sixteen people were injured and a number of arrests were made. The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, has given his support to an Interior Ministry proposal to ban the Workers’ Party.
Prime Minister Topolánek has said no current cabinet members are likely to be chosen to fill the new post of deputy prime minister for the economy when he makes a cabinet reshuffle next month. He told the weekly Ekonom neither the finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, nor the trade minister, Martin Říman, was likely to get the job. Mr Topolánek said the creation of the post was not a populist gesture; he said the government needed to push through pension reforms and to deal with current economic problems.
US academic Theodor Postol says both the Czech public and parliament are
receiving deliberately distorted information about a radar base America is
planning to build in central Bohemia. Professor Postol, who teaches
security studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been
brought to the Czech Republic by the environmental group Greenpeace.
Speaking in Plzeň on Thursday, he said the available information suggested
the radar would have a range of 600 or 700 kilometres, not the 2100 to 2500
kilometres described by the director of the US Missile Defense Agency,
Henry Obering. The US says the radar is intended to track missiles from
states such as Iran. Professor Postol said both the US and the Czech
government were responsible for spreading distorted information.
Prague has signed treaties with Washington on the radar base, though the Czech Parliament has not yet voted on whether to allow US soldiers to be based on Czech territory.
Canada is maintaining its policy of not requiring Czech visitors to acquire a visa, the Czech embassy said on Thursday after a meeting between Canada’s minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, and the Czech minister for human rights and minorities, Džamila Stehlíková. Minister Stehlíková presented the Canadians with information about a project to integrate Romanies into Czech society. Canada was reported to be considering re-introducing a visa requirement for Czechs, as over 500 Czechs, many of them Romanies, have applied for asylum since the requirement was dropped a year ago.
Czech internet domain names will continue to feature letters without Czech diacritics, says the association CZ.NIC, which administers domain names ending in .cz. The question of introducing Czech diacritics (the symbols on letters like ž and ů) was again put on hold for a two-year period, after most respondents in a survey by CZ.NIC said things should be left as they are.
The Czech Republic beat San Marino 3:0 away on Wednesday night in a qualifying game for the 2010 football World Cup. The goals came from Radoslav Kováč, Zdeněk Pospěch and 19-year-old Tomáš Necid, who came on as a substitute to make his international debut. That result leaves the Czechs second in their qualifying group, two points behind leaders Slovenia. Wednesday’s game was their last of 2008.
An exhibition of traditional Christmas nativity scenes has opened at Prague Castle. It features around four dozen nativity scenes of various ages and made of various materials, including wood, cardboard and gingerbread and was put together by the Spolek českých betlemářů (Czech nativity scene makers association).
The Czech Prime Minister, Mirek Topolánek, has given his support to proposals to outlaw far-right Workers’ Party. The proposal was drafted by Interior Minister Ivan Langer at the start of this month, but has been given extra impetus by an incident on Monday, in which around 1000 riot police clashed with an estimated 500 protesters from the Workers’ Party protesting at a largely Roma housing estate in Litvínov, northern Bohemia. Sixteen people were injured during the incident, in which police used water canons and other measures to break up the demonstration purportedly held to oppose positive discrimination towards Roma. In an interview following the incident, Mr Topolánek stated that the perpetrators must be severely punished, and also added his backing to the proposed law. Before the Workers’ Party is outlawed, the legislation must be assessed by various government departments and approved by the Supreme Administrative Court.