Czech leaders have given a subdued and even negative reaction to US President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Price. Saturday’s edition of the daily Dnes headlined with “Nobel Prize for nothing.” Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said it was unfortunate for a serving politician to get the prize especially when he had not achieved anything concrete. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek pointed out that former Czech president Václav Havel might merit the award 20 years after the collapse of Communism. Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda said the award was more for raised hopes than actions. But the Social Democrats warmly welcomed the award as recognition that President Obama had ditched a policy of confrontation.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has said the government is willing to
discuss President Václav Klaus’ demand for an exemption from the EU’s
reforming Lisbon Treaty. But he insisted the ratification process could not
be reopened and the treaty should be signed by the end of the year.
The Czech President and opponent of further steps towards European integration called on Friday for the Czech Republic to be given guarantees that the treaty could not be used by Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII to reclaim their property.
Prime Minister Fischer said he did not share President Klaus’ fears about a threat to the so-called Beneš decrees ― which paved the way for the Sudeten Germans expulsion. He added that the government had not been consulted about the president’s last minute condition.
The Czech Republic is the last country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty after Polish President Lech Kaczynski went ahead with the step on Saturday. The treaty is due to take effect at the start of 2010 when all 27 EU states have completed ratification.
The Czechs must beat Poland on Saturday night to keep their hopes of qualification for the 2010 World Cup alive. As well as a victory in Prague, the Czechs must also hope that table-topping Slovakia beat Slovenia. Even with a win on Saturday, the Czechs still have to clinch qualification for South Africa with victory in their last game against Northern Ireland on Wednesday. The Czechs are currently fourth in their group. They are unable to overtake Slovakia but have a chance of piping Slovenia and Northern Ireland for the second place.
The remains of a Czech pilot who served with the British Royal Air Force during WWII have finally been discovered 52 years after his death. Pilot Josef Bryks was a RAF fighter pilot and was shot down over France in 1941. He survived German imprisonment but was given a 10-year sentence by the Communists when they came to power in Czechoslovakia. He died at the Jáchymov uranium mines in 1957. The daily Dnes reported on Saturday that historians have now found out that his ashes were secretly buried eight years after his death at Prague’s Motol cemetery. His surviving wife, now living in the US, said she could not believe the news.
Czech police have decided to target the funding of extreme right-wing parties in order to weaken them and hasten their destruction, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Saturday, citing a top ministry of interior source. The paper says recent evidence suggests that the parties are well funded. It gives the example of the recruitment of high profile lawyers to protect their interests. Police swooped on a series of extremist leaders in the summer, many of them organisers of concerts used as recruiting grounds. The paper points out that worries that one of the highest profile parties, the Workers’ Party could get more than 1.5 percent in elections to the lower house next year. That would give it the right to 7.0 million crowns in state funding. The government has tabled a proposal to ban the party.
Czech police have launched massive preparations for the influx of Polish football supporters for a key World Cup qualification game in Prague on Saturday night. Recent violent clashes at away matches have earned Polish fans a reputation as being amongst the worst in Europe. Around 4,000 Poles are expected for the match with around half that number reportedly already in the Czech capital. Czech police have doubled normal security for such matches with 800 stewards and 1,000 police called up in Prague. A special anti-conflict squad will also be on standby.
Inhabitants of the South Bohemian village of Okroulé Radouň voted against being the site for a nuclear waste store on Saturday. Just under 60 percent of inhabitants voted in the local referendum with 93 percent of them opposing the plans. The latest vote means that 27 councils out of 36 in the six regions shortlisted for a waste store have come out against the idea. Local leaders admitted after the vote that the referendum was not binding on the authority charged with storing waste. But they said that a government decision should not overturn local opposition.
In other reactions, Civic Democrat leaders have suggested that President
Klaus’ demands could be dealt with after the Lisbon Treaty comes into
effect. The party said in a statement that the guarantees he is seeking
could be given when an agreement is sealed with Croatia on its entry into
the European Union. Such guarantees would have the character of a
clarification of the treaty and not an amendment, which would require fresh
clearance from national parliaments and heads of state. Clarifications were
used to give the Irish guarantees about their tax system and neutrality.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats said they had a certain understanding for President Klaus’ demands. But Christian Democrat leader Cyril Svoboda attacked his stand describing it as obstruction based on the opinion of one man which flew in the face of parliament’s wishes. The Greens have suggested that President Klaus had overstepped the mark and his removal should be considered.
Czech tennis bosses and players have welcomed the Spanish decision to play the Davis Cup finals in Barcelona. Spain announced that the final against the Czech Republic from December 4 to 6 will be staged at the 17,600 capacity Sant Jordi Stadium. Non-playing Czech coach Jaroslav Navrátíl said it was good news that it was an indoor hall. Top players Radek Štepánek and Tomáš Berdych said they knew the venue and looked forward to the match. The Czechs are underdogs for the match with Rafael Nadal due to play for Spain after his comeback from recent injury.
The parties also stated the priorities they would like to see top the government’s policy programme. Jíři Paroubek of the Social Democrats said that the government should focus on decreasing unemployment, job creation and the energy policy. Green Party chairman Ondřej Liška stated the government should fight for transparency in partisan finances. Michaela Šojdrová of the Christian Democrats stated her party’s desire for anti-corruption, anti-gambling and family support legislation. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek made a general statement that the government should deal first with issues that cannot be delayed.