The Czech Republic will seek a united EU stand on maintaining Georgia’s
territorial integrity and assisting its recovery following its conflict
Speaking after an extraordinary Czech government session devoted to the
crisis in the Caucuses, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech
government would strive for the EU to unify around a clear plan for the
recontruction of the whole territory of Georgia and make a strong statement
with regard to its territorial integrity.
The situation in the Caucuses has been further complicated by Moscow’s recognition of the two breakaway Georgian provinces - South Ossetia and Abkhazia - on Tuesday in a move that drew sharp criticism from Western Europe, the United States and NATO.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has likewise condemned the move, saying that it fully respects Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – which includes the two breakaway provinces. The Czech government recently earmarked 150 million crowns to help restore Georgia’s damaged infrastructure and Prague has expressed an interest in hosting an international donors conference which would raise more money for the war-torn country.
Dozens of rank and file policemen are being trained to serve as elite bodyguards within preparations for the Czech Republic’s EU presidency in the first half of next year, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes writes on Wednesday. The paper notes that the protection of statesmen during the country’s six-month presidency will be an unprecedented challenge: one of the biggest security operations in the country’s history. As a rule fifty to sixty statesmen participate in any one event and Czech security forces will have to ensure their protection according to international agreements.
The Prague State Attorney has rejected an attempt to get Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg investigated on charges of high treason for signing a missile defense treaty with the United States. The State Attorney dealt with the matter on the grounds of a criminal complaint lodged by an anti-radar activist, student Martin Kadrman. The treaty that Prague and Washington signed in July should enable Washington to site a tracking radar on Czech soil as part of a US global missile defence shield intended to counter the threat of an attack from so called “rogue” states such as Iran. The deal still needs to get approval from the Czech Parliament. Opinion surveys indicate that the majority of Czechs do not want a US radar on Czech territory.
Czech defender Michal Kadlec on Wednesday signed a deal to be loaned from Sparta Prague to German club Leverkusen for the rest of the season with the option of the loan becoming a permanent transfer, the CTK news agency reported citing the player's agent. According to preliminary reports, Leverkusen will pay 20 million crowns (1.19 million dollars) for the loan deal and a further 80 million crowns in the event of a permanent transfer, the agency said. The 23 year old defender recently represented his country in the European Championships hosted by Austria and Switzerland.
The ruling Civic Democratic Party is putting pressure on rebel deputies after they torpedoed a bill on social benefits in Parliament. The party leadership on Tuesday called on regional leaders to bring the five rebels to heel, suggesting that they should think about expelling members who thwarted the party line. The rebel deputies, meanwhile, insist that they are fully entitled to vote according to their conscience and claim that dialogue would produce better results than attempts to intimidate them. So far none of the regions has indicated that it is considering acting on the advice of the party leadership to expel members for disobedience.
Minister Schwarzenberg is to travel to Paris on Thursday to discuss the conflict in the Caucuses with his counterparts Bernard Kouchner of France and Carl Bildt of Sweden. Monday’s EU summit, called by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is to review the conflict and its impact on the European Union's relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, while the Czech Republic will take over in January before handing over to Sweden in July. The Czech Republic will be represented at the summit by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
The Czech state-controlled energy giant ČEZ said on Wednesday it had sealed a deal to buy two Romanian wind energy projects which, when completed, will be the biggest land-based wind farm in Europe. ČEZ, now the largest power producer in central Europe, said it bought the twin projects, based near the Black Sea city of Constanza, from the international wind power development company Continental Wind Partners LLC. No financial details of the transaction have been disclosed.
In related news, on Monday the executive council of the ruling Civic Democratic Party called for speeding up talks on Georgia’s entry into NATO. The news was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra. The party accused Russia of having taken advantage of division in South Ossetia in a show of force on sovereign territory and Mr Vondra made clear the Civic Democrat leadership was watching with “real concern the true objectives of Russian aggression”. On Monday Russia's parliament passed a motion calling on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to support the areas’ break-away bid - a move which was sharply criticised by the US. Despite an appeal by President George Bush to Mr Medvedev to not go ahead with the move, the Russian president confirmed he had signed a decree Tuesday, in which Russia formally recognised the regions.
A study by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, has suggested that the population of the Czech Republic will decrease by almost one million to some 9.5 million inhabitants by 2060, mainly due to population ageing. At present people over 65 make up less than 15 percent of the Czech population, while in 52 years it will be more than one-third. This trend will also require higher budget expenditures on care for the elderly. The demographic development in other former-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe is similar. Neighbours Slovakia, for example, are to have the oldest population in Europe in 52 years, when its share of citizens over 65 is to make up over 36 percent of all inhabitants.