The European Union and China have agreed to increase co-operation in the
field of environmentally friendly development with a view to decreasing
greenhouse gases. At a summit at Prague Castle on Wednesday afternoon, held
as part of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the EU, the two
sides also signed a science and technology partnership that European
officials hope will reduce copyright piracy in China, and a joint statement
on an EU-China clean energy centre. The meeting, chaired by Czech President
Václav Klaus, was attended by China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao,
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy
chief Javier Solana.
The last scheduled EU-China meeting was cancelled in December over Beijing’s opposition to a meeting between Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, when France held the rotating EU presidency.
At a news conference after Wednesday’s summit, Czech President Václav Klaus said human rights would be part of the “strategic dialogue” between the EU and China. For his part, Prime Minister Wen said the most important thing was to preserve the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in one another’s internal affairs.
Official campaigning has begun in the Czech Republic ahead of elections to
the European Parliament being held on June 5 and 6. The 33 parties standing
have been presenting their manifestos, while public broadcasters Czech
Television and Czech Radio will feature the groups’ campaign ads between
now and June 2. A poll conducted by STEM for Czech Television suggested
that parties’ ability to deal with the financial crisis will be the main
criterion for voters in the June polls. Meanwhile, another survey by the
same agency indicated 24.2 percent of voters would cast their ballots for
the Social Democrats, while 20.9 percent would back their biggest rivals,
the Civic Democrats.
Some 27 percent of Czech voters turned out in elections to the European Parliament in 2004, soon after the Czech Republic joined the EU.
Czech Television is planning to file a lawsuit against the neo-Nazi National Party after the group sent the station a racist campaign ad promising the “final solution of the Gypsy problem”, the news website novinky.cz reported. Czech TV broadcast the clip on Wednesday, because legally they had no choice, a spokesperson said. Both Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb condemned the election spot and called on the minister of the interior, Jan Pecina, to order an investigation into the matter.
A caretaker Czech government due to lead the country until early general
elections will not send the issue of a planned US radar base to the lower
house of parliament, the Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, told
Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper Lidové noviny. Mr Kohout said the
subject was not on the interim government’s agenda and would be dealt
with by whoever is elected in October. While the Senate approved Czech-US
treaties allowing for the placing of a radar base in central Bohemia,
ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek withdrew the matter from the agenda of
the Chamber of Deputies due to a lack of support.
It is not clear whether America plans to go ahead with the construction of an anti-missile shield project developed by the previous administration. In Prague in April President Barack Obama merely reiterated his previous position that it could go ahead if it was proven to work and was cost effective, and if a threat from Iran remained.
Fifty-five percent of Czechs regard Jan Fischer as a good prime minister, suggests an opinion poll carried out this week by the STEM agency for the newspaper Právo. Just over a quarter of respondents took the opposite view of the caretaker prime minister. Meanwhile, three quarters of those polled said they believed Mr Fischer’s caretaker cabinet would win a confidence vote. His government, which was appointed on May 8, has 30 days to win confidence in the lower house.
In an interview with the AFP news agency, Prime Minister Fischer said his government would seek a ban on the far-right Workers’ Party. A request from the previous government to have the group declared illegal was rejected by a Czech court. Mr Fischer also said his interim cabinet would not set a date for adoption of the common European currency. The caretaker prime minister is due to unveil his government’s policy priorities in the next few days.
In a study by Switzerland’s International Institute for Management Development, the Czech Republic ranks 37th out of 57 states in terms of readiness to deal with the impacts of the financial crisis. The Institute’s “stress test” focused on how well equipped countries are to face the crisis and to increase their competitiveness in the near future. Denmark did best in the survey.
The Janáček’s May International Music Festival gets underway in Ostrava on Wednesday evening. The north Moravian city is the centre of the 34th Janáček’s May festival, which also takes place in six other towns in the region over a period of three weeks. The focus this year is on female vocalists. The great Czech composer Leoš Janáček was a native of the north Moravian region and died in Ostrava in 1928.