EU leaders started a two-day summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday. One
of the major tasks facing them is to discuss a last minute demand for an
exemption from part of the EU’s reforming Lisbon treaty sought by Czech
President Václav Klaus. President Klaus wants firm guarantees that the
treaty can not be used by Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World
War II to reclaim property. Diplomatic sources told the Czech News Agency
that a deal on the exemption should be thrashed out on Thursday evening.
But Hungary, which has opposed the exemption, says it will decide on its
final stance during the summit.
The Czech Republic is the last of the EU’s 27 to ratify the Lisbon treaty which should take effect at the start of next year. Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said on Wednesday that President Klaus had given guarantees he will not erect new barriers to ratification if his exemption is delivered and the country’s highest court gives it the all clear. The Czech Constitutional Court is expected to rule on Tuesday over a complaint about whether the Lisbon treaty is in conformity with Czech law.
In ice hockey, there have been some big managerial changes in the league. Sparta Prague have sacked the managing tandem of Pavel Hynek and František Výborný. Výborný is heading to České Budějovice where first team coach Jan Tlačil has been sacked from his coaching post. The two teams have had poor results since the start of the season. Sparta lies ninth and České Budějovice tenth in the 14-strong league.
Six more students studying at a high school in the south Bohemian town of České Budějovice have been confirmed with swine fever. This means that 14 students and two adults from the school have come down with swine flu. The school students are believed to have become infected on a school trip to Bavaria. The infected students have been quarantined at home. Swine flu claimed its first victim this month when a woman from Karlovy Vary died following infection.
The Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl has slammed local and national authorities for allowing a landmark to fall into rack and ruin. Mr Motejl’s office has issued a damning report about how town, regional authorities and the Ministry of Culture failed to prevent the impressive Kyselka spa complex near Karlovy Vary in western Bohemia from falling into ruin over the last decade. It said the unique architectural complex built in the 19th century was a sad reminder of how a protected building could fall into disrepair if the owner and authorities did nothing.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer is to visit Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on November 13 and 14, the government announced on Thursday. Talks are likely to focus on the treaty between the Vatican and Czech Republic negotiated at the end of the 1990’s but still not ratified. The lower house of parliament refused approval in 2003. The treaty would aim to update relations between church and state in areas such as education, healthcare, cultural and social affairs. The Vatican has already said that it will not press its demands for compensation for assets confiscated by the former Communist regime due to the current economic crisis.
Some two hundred people attended the unveiling of a memorial in Prague to democratic politician Milada Horáková, who was executed by the communist regime after a show trial in 1950. The memorial is located near Pankrác prison where she and other political prisoners were jailed and executed. Although Horáková’s name and legacy evokes great respect some people refused to attend the unveiling ceremony after it emerged that the Communist Party had also made a financial contribution to the memorial. The Political Prisoners Confederation said it was an outrage that the communists who had murdered her should have been allowed to do so. The memorial’s construction was initiated by the Milada Horáková Club and two marginal parties, the Czech National Socialist Party and the Masaryk Democratic Party, who said that lack of money had forced them to accept a financial gift from the communists.
The celebrations of Czech statehood will traditionally culminate with a special ceremony at Prague Castle at which President Václav Klaus is to hand out over 20 state distinctions. The list of names remains secret but there has been speculation in the media that the choice of personalities will reflect the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Six hundred people have been invited to Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall for Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
The Czech government met to debate the country’s position and review its
mandate ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday. The Czech Republic
will be the only remaining EU member not to have concluded ratification of
the Lisbon treaty and EU leaders are expected to decide whether or not to
give the Czech Republic an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights,
as requested by President Klaus. There have been indications that the EU
might be willing to consider this option in return for a guarantee that the
Eurosceptic Czech president would then sign the treaty without further
delay, but not all EU members are in favor of such a move.
Matters have been further complicated by the fact that the Czech Constitutional Court on Tuesday postponed by a week a final verdict on whether the EU’s Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech law.
Former Czech president Václav Havel will open the plenary session of the European Parliament on November 11, with a speech on the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism in central and eastern Europe, EP President Jerzy Buzek’s spokeswoman Inga Rosinska told the ctk news agency on Wednesday. In a symbolic gesture MEPs have also invited a group of 89 young people –all born in 1989 – to the plenary session. The event is to be accompanied by an exhibition of photographs documenting the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.
Some 200 opponents of the Lisbon treaty used the day of Czech statehood to voice their opposition to the country’s foreign policy course, claiming that by ratifying the document the country was handing over its independence and sovereignty to Brussels. The protesters marched through the city centre brandishing slogans such as “We don’t want Lisbon”, “We don’t want Brussels” and “Lisbon is Munich”. There we shouts of “long live President Klaus” and “don’t give in –we are with you ”.
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Why are Russian and Chinese spying activities in Czech Republic so intense and how exactly do they do it?
Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
The history of the “German Czechs”