The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla visited Brussels on Monday to lobby for Czech interests. Mr Spidla first met his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt, then held talks with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, followed by a discussion with EU Commission President, Romano Prodi. With the EU commencing the debate on the precise financial conditions for admitting new countries, Mr Spidla's visit was the last chance to influence EU decisions on financing expansion at the highest political level. Speaking to journalists after his meeting with Mr Spidla, Mr Prodi said he was confident that the EU and the candidate countries would reach the necessary compromises before the EU summit in Copenhagen in December.
Two men who disrupted a news conference concluding the NATO summit on Friday have been charged with breaching the peace. During NATO Secretary General George Robertson's closing speech, the men attempted to throw a tomato at Mr Robertson and shouted anti-alliance slogans in Russian. The two protestors were attending the summit as journalists. Both were released from police custody on Friday evening. Czech President Vaclav Havel apologised to Lord Robertson after the incident.
Prague is gradually returning to normal after the two day NATO summit
on Thursday and Friday. Traffic is again flowing normally through the
city, where many streets were cordoned off, and shops, which were
boarded up in anticipation of violent anti-NATO demonstrations are
gradually reopening. In the end the summit passed without serious
incident, and police officers, brought in from around the country are
now returning home.
The NATO summit witnessed the historic decision to invite a further seven countries to join the alliance, and for the first time the expansion is to include countries which were once part of the Soviet Union. NATO leaders also decided to create a rapid response force to be used in global anti-terrorist missions, and issued a statement backing UN efforts to disarm Iraq. The statement was cautiously worded and fell short of overtly endorsing military intervention. At talks on Friday NATO and Russia said they would continue in the path of cooperation set up in Rome six months ago.
The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla will be in Brussels on Monday to lobby for Czech interests, just as the European Union begins debating the precise financial conditions that will apply after the next wave of applicants is admitted. At a series of meetings with EU and Belgian officials, including EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, Mr Spidla will be putting forward such Czech concerns as subsidies for the country's farmers and quotas for milk and beef exports. The Czech Republic's chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, said that the visit was extremely well timed, as it would be the Czech Republic's last top-level opportunity to influence EU decisions on its finances after expansion. The country is widely expected to join the union in 2004.
Meanwhile, with the NATO summit being over, Prague is gradually getting back to normal. Those who left the city or stayed home for fear of getting caught in demonstrations are returning to their normal lives. Despite further protest demonstrations scheduled to be held in several parts of the city, Prague streets remained quiet on Saturday. Police who were called in during the summit from the rest of the country are being sent back home.
Two men who disrupted a news conference concluding the NATO summit on Friday have been charged with breaching the peace. During NATO Secretary General George Robertson's closing speech, the men attempted to throw a tomato at Mr Robertson and shouted anti-alliance slogans in Russian. After security officials hauled the protesters out of the room, one of them said he was a Russian National Bolshevik Party activist. The two protesters were accredited as journalists. Both were released from police custody on Friday evening. Lord Robertson took the incident with humour, saying that the tomato had now become historic as it was thrown during a historic NATO summit. Czech President Vaclav Havel apologised to Lord Robertson after the incident.
The NATO summit came to an end in Prague on Friday after two days of talks on the enlargement, transformation and modernisation of the alliance. Leaders of the 53-year-old defence organisation made the historic decision to invite a further seven former Eastern Bloc nations to join, and for the first time the expansion is to include countries which were once part of the Soviet Union. NATO leaders also decided to create a rapid Response Force to be used in global anti-terrorist missions, and issued a statement backing UN efforts to disarm Iraq. However the statement did not go so far as to endorse military intervention overtly. On Friday, representatives of the 19 NATO member states met their counterparts from 27 East European and Central Asian nations that have partnership accords with the alliance.
The Croatian President Stipe Mesic said on Friday that the US President George Bush had encouraged Croatia, Macedonia and Albania to carry out reforms necessary for NATO membership, after the three states were left out of the latest NATO expansion in Prague. Mr Mesic said on Thursday that Croatia was aware it was not yet ready for membership of the alliance because it had not reached all democratic and other required standards. He blamed the delay on Croatia's war of independence in the 1990s. Croatia is a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace programme, which is seen as a first step towards eventual full membership in the alliance. One of the most important and controversial issues for Croatia is cooperation with the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko said on Friday that his government was cooperating with a probe into allegations that Kiev approved the sale of Kolchuga early warning radar systems to Iraq. However Mr Zlenko cautioned that Ukraine could not give out all data on Kolchuga sales. British and American experts have been investigating the accusation that Kiev authorised the radar sale to Baghdad. The Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma attended a NATO partnership meeting on Friday despite misgivings voiced by the alliance's Secretary General George Robertson. NATO had told Mr Kuchma he would not be welcome at the meeting and downgraded separate talks with Ukraine from head of state to foreign minister level, but could not prevent Mr Kuchma attending the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council meeting.
Two Anti-NATO demonstrations took place on Friday afternoon. A crowd of
anarchists marched from Namesti Miru Square towards the Congress Centre
- the main venue of the summit - and back, and a meeting of right-wing
nationalists ended at around 4 pm on Old Town Square in the historic
centre of Prague. No violence was reported from the demonstrations or
those that took place on the previous days.
The NATO summit took place amid tight security measures. Around 12,000 policemen were stationed in the streets of Prague, equipped with water cannons and riot gear, and police helicopters were patrolling over the city. Also border police turned away more than 300 would-be protesters at the Czech border.