Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who was re-elected head of the Civic Democratic Party over the weekend, has indicated there may be changes in the centre-right coalition government. Mr. Topolánek told reporters shortly after his election victory that he was planning to meet with the leaders of the two other parties in government, the Christian Democrats and the Greens, to discuss the government’s future set-up. He would not elaborate on his plans ahead of the meeting. The re-elected Civic Democrat leader said his current priorities were to consolidate his party, to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis on the Czech economy and to focus on the Czech EU presidency starting on January 1st.
The US might temporarily postpone its missile defense project in central Europe due to the global financial crisis, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told journalists in Brussels on Sunday. Mr. Schwarzenberg, who is in Brussels for Monday’s meeting on EU foreign ministers, said the Czech Republic had no problem with this. “We have fulfilled our duty as allies,” the Czech foreign minister said. In an interview for the Austrian press agency APA Mr. Schwarzenberg sharply rebuked Russia for meddling in the affairs of countries that used to be part of the Warsaw Pact, saying this was something Prague was not prepared to accept.
The ruling Civic Democratic Party may try to block a debate on the Lisbon treaty at Tuesday’s extraordinary session of the lower house, the news site Euro.cz reported on Monday. Citing Civic Democrat deputy Marek Benda, the news site said the plan was to vote against the programme line-up of Tuesday’s extraordinary session of the lower house. With support from Communist deputies, who oppose the ratification of the Lisbon treaty as one man, this strategy may work, the news site says. Although Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek has called on the party to support the Lisbon treaty, he also warned against pushing too hard to get it approved by the end of the year saying such a move could back-fire. The eurosceptic faction within the party is doing its best to delay a vote on the issue. The weekend party conference decided to leave the vote on the Lisbon treaty in the hands of its deputies and senators, failing to pass a recommendation on the matter.
The opposition Social Democrats have warned the ruling party against blocking Tuesday’s debate on the Lisbon treaty, saying that unless the treaty was ratified before the end of the year they would withdraw from a non-aggression pact with the governing coalition which was to last through the six months of the country’s EU presidency. It was the Social Democrats who asked for an extraordinary session of the lower house on Tuesday in an effort to speed up the treaty’s ratification.
Czech President Václav Klaus has approved a government-sponsored amendment to the banking law, raising guarantees for bank deposits from 25,000 to 50,000 euros (around CZK 1.25 million). The amendment was proposed in response to the global banking and credit crisis. Under the new law, the Czech government will also guarantee the full amount of deposits, against the current limit of 90 percent.
Madeleine Albright, a former US secretary of state, is likely to become the next US ambassador to the Czech Republic, the daily Právo writes on Monday citing diplomatic sources. Mr. Albright served as secretary of state during the Clinton administration. She is of Czech descent, speaks the language fluently and has a good understanding of central European affairs.
A new right-wing party is to appear on the Czech political scene within the next few weeks, initiated by Petr Mach, a former aide to President Václav Klaus. Mr Mach, executive director of the Centre for Economics and Politics, recently outlined his plan to establish the party as an alternative for voters disappointed by the Civic Democratic Party. The new party plans to cooperate with the pan-European movement Libertas in elections to the EP in 2009, but wants to run separately in the next general elections in the Czech Republic due to take place the following year.
Czech scientists have mastered the technology of preparing special cells that have the same qualities as embryonic stem cells, avoiding the ethical problem of using human embryos. They can now use human skin cells to prepare the special cells that would substitute the embryonic ones. Scientists from the Institute of Experimental medicine are the first in the Czech Republic to master the technology that has been used in just a few labs in the world so far.
The EU has earmarked an equivalent of 53 billion crowns to help finance national research and development in the Czech Republic, Education Minister Ondřej Liška said on Monday. The money from EU funds can be drawn until 2013 and it is mainly designed to support universities, public research institutions and other NGOs dealing with research and development. Those interested can apply for subsidies from the EU Research and Development for Innovations Programme as of December 15.
Czech football captain Tomáš Rosický won’t be back on the field until March, as he continues to struggle with a hamstring tendon injury. The Czech midfielder, who has been out of action since the end of January, underwent further surgery on the problem in November. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said on Monday that he expected Rosický to return to action in 2009.