The caretaker prime minister of the Czech Republic, Jan Fischer, has rejected the idea that he could become the country’s next European commissioner. The news website idnes.cz reported that the two biggest parties the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats were in favour of putting Mr Fischer forward for the post. However, in a statement issued on Saturday he said he and his government had taken on the responsibility of leading the country until elections next year and he would not give up that responsibility overnight. The prime minister said he hoped the political parties could agree on a candidate; if not, the interim government is expected to select a nominee at the start of next week.
Jan Fischer’s predecessor as head of the government, Mirek Topolánek, said the prime minister had expressed interest in taking the job of European commissioner. The Civic Democrats leader said after weeks of complicated negotiations Mr Fischer’s nomination was the only compromise that could be reached, and that he could not understand the latter’s complete u-turn over taking the post. He also praised the prime minister (by profession a statistician), saying he had shown he could represent the Czech Republic well on the European scene.
The mayor of Prague, Pavel Bém, has established a crisis committee aimed at averting a strike by workers at the city’s transport authority. At its first meeting on Saturday, the group set as its targets preventing industrial action and dealing with the company’s poor financial situation. Mr Bém described a planned strike by transport workers as irresponsible, saying they would hold Prague to ransom. For their part, they say mooted pay cuts of seven percent are unacceptable. According to unofficial information the strike could take place next Tuesday.
The Czech Republic’s biggest left-wing party the Social Democrats have backed the threat of strike from the capital’s transport workers. Deputy leader Zdeněk Škromach said after a meeting of the party’s leadership on Saturday that Prague City Hall had adopted an irresponsible approach that could not lead to a reasonable agreement. Mr Škromach said if Prague citizens were angered by a strike, they should aim that anger at the city authorities, not the workers.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has reiterated his view that the communist regimes of Europe collapsed mainly because of internal weaknesses. He made the comments at a conference in the United States on the role played by Ronald Reagan in the fall of communism. Mr Klaus said if there were external reasons for that collapse, Mr Reagan and the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher had contributed. The Czech president has previously suggested that the role of dissidents in bringing about the end of communism was exaggerated.
The Chamber of Deputies has voted to lift the immunity of independent MP Petr Wolf. Mr Wolf, who was elected for the Social Democrats, is accused of abuse of state subsidies. He told reporters that Friday’s vote, which was supported by the Social Democrats and the Communists, was to do with politics not legality, and was revenge for the fact he had quit the former party.
The renowned Czech theatre director Otomar Krejča has died at the age of 87. He was director of the National Theatre’s drama department for six years before helping found the theatre Divadlo za branou. Krejča directed over 80 productions, many of them outside the Czech Republic, in such cities as Brussels, Vienna and Havana.
A new book has been published about the posters which accompanied the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Entitled Posters of the Velvet Revolution, it collects various posters that appeared in the country’s towns and cities during that period, for instance calling for the removal of the communist government or for a general strike at the end of November that year. The authors, many of whom were university students, are mostly unknown. The book features texts in both Czech and English.
The Czech President Václav Klaus has met with the American Vice-President Joe Biden as part of a four-day visit to the United States. The US again confirmed its interest in cooperating with the Czech Republic on a new missile defence system replacing an earlier proposal by the previous US administration. Mr Klaus said that the “exceptionally friendly” meeting had picked up where discussions with Mr Biden had left off a few weeks earlier during the latter’s visit to Prague. On Wednesday Mr Klaus gave a speech on global warming and a day later met with members of Congress. From Washington he will be flying to California for a conference on Ronald Regan and the fall of communism, and will be returning to Prague on Sunday.