The visiting Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen on Tuesday expressed full support for the Czech Republic’s EU presidency, saying his country would back Prague’s efforts to deal with the global financial crisis. The statement comes shortly after French President Nicolas Sarkozy assured Prime Minister Topolánek that Paris would not try to sideline Prague by holding a parallel presidency for the eurozone states. The Czech and Finnish heads of government also discussed energy sources and security. Mr. Topolánek said Finland could become a model for the Czech Republic with its combination of renewable sources and atomic energy.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has raised doubts as to whether the Czech Parliament would approve the Lisbon treaty ahead of the country’s EU presidency in the first half of next year. At a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday, Mr. Topolánek said that a vote on the treaty would most likely be delayed due to the fact that the Constitutional court had postponed by two weeks its ruling on whether the treaty was in line with the Czech constitutional order. The prime minister said the delay was unfortunate in view of the country’s upcoming EU presidency, but he said he was confident the treaty would get approved in the first quarter of next year.
One of the reactors at the Czech nuclear power station at Temelín, closed for routine maintenance since the end of July, is to remain closed for several weeks longer than planned so that a turbine blade can be repaired, the plant’s operator ČEZ said on Tuesday. Temelín’s first unit remains in outage and repair work on the turbine blade should be completed by mid-December, a spokesman for ČEZ said.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek will attend Wednesday’s summit of the Visegrad group states in Warsaw, his office said on Tuesday. The meeting of Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Slovak leaders should focus on areas of common policy in EU matters, coordinate the group’s position ahead of Friday’s EU summit on the global financial crisis and address a number of bilateral issues. Mr. Topolánek and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk are expected to discuss the stationing of elements of the US missile defense shield in their countries and debate relations with Washington under the new president.
An inspection team of the Czech Culture Ministry has said the ongoing reconstruction of Charles Bridge has wrought irreparable damage to Prague’s most famous historical landmark. The inspectors say that the newly placed stone blocks in the walls of the bridge do not correspond to the walls’ original appearance, that they were made of unsuitable sandstone and stone cutters had failed to meet the hand-craft quality of the original 14th century blocks. In a report published on the ministry’s web page the inspection concludes that the aesthetic and artistic value of the bridge has been irreparably damaged. The Prague City Hall which has received the outcome of the expertise has five days in which to file an official complaint.
Vladimir Darjanin is to head the prestigious Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as on mid-2009, the Czech Culture Ministry said on Tuesday. He will replace the orchestra’s current head Vaclav Riedelbauch in July. Vladimír Darjanin was the commissioner in charge of Czech participation in Expo 2005 in Japan. He currently heads the international classical music festival Dvorak's Prague.
Olga Zubová, head of the Green Party’s National Council, has announced her decision to resign in connection with the party’s humiliating defeat in October’s regional and Senate elections. The party suffered a whitewash in both elections, which party leader Martin Bursík attributed to the fact they became a contest between the country’s two largest parties. Olga Zubová who is perceived as a party rebel and is a strong critic of Mr. Bursík, said she wanted to set a good example and hoped that other leaders of the coalition government would accept their share of the blame.
A poll conducted by the STEM agency at the beginning of October showed that 55 percent of Czechs are against the ratification of the Lisbon treaty and that only 25 percent understand the changes that the reforms would bring. STEM has surveyed public opinion on the treaty since February of this year and respondents' views on it have grown increasingly negative, particularly in the wake of the treaty´s rejection by Irish voters in June.
The Czech Republic will not meet EU norms for water and sewage treatment facilities by 2010 as planned, Frantisek Barák, board chairman of the Association of Water and Sewerage Networks told journalists on Tuesday. He said roughly 25 percent of the country, including Prague, would be unable to complete the set projects in time to meet the deadline. The main reasons are a lack of funds and building capacities. Investors will have to borrow money to complete many of the projects, which will affect the price of water in the future. Mr. Barák said the price of water could double or even treble, in particular in smaller towns.
The government has approved a draft bill that should allow foreigners to buy real estate in the Czech Republic without restrictions. The bill passed by the government on Monday will abolish an exemption which the Czech authorities negotiated with the EU on the country’s entry to the European Union in 2004. If passed by Parliament and approved by the president, the bill will enter into force in May next year. According to insiders, the law will especially benefit potential buyers from other central and eastern European EU member states.