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 ”.
At a gathering of foreign diplomats held on occasion of the anniversary, President Václav Klaus said that after twenty years of democracy the Czech Republic faced a tough decision –whether to give up part of its sovereignty to European institutions. President Klaus said that while he was strongly opposed to the Lisbon treaty he was aware of the political reality of the present day and the fact that the Czech Republic did not exist in a vacuum. He also explained why he had asked for an opt-out so late, saying that until Ireland’s repeat referendum he had not considered it relevant.
Austrian courts do not have jurisdiction over the Temelín nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. That verdict came in response to a complaint against Temelín’s operators ČEZ filed by the Upper Austrian regional authority at an Austrian court. It said Temelín was guilty of causing damage to farm land at a school owned by Upper Austria in the vicinity of the nuclear station. The Austrian court then asked the European Court of Justice to consider whether it was obliged to respect a permit issued to Temelín by authorities in the Czech Republic. The nuclear power station, which is situated close to the Austrian border, has for several years been a source of tension between the two countries.
Czech President Václav Klaus is set to hand out 23 state honours on Wednesday evening, which is the day of Czech statehood, marking the 91st anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. Mladá fronta Dnes reported that Mr Klaus had been expected to bestow more honours this year, given that it is the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism. Some names of recipients have leaked this year, including the singer Karel Gott. Six hundred people have been invited to Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall for Wednesday’s awards ceremony.
The Social Democrats have the highest support among Czech voters, suggests a new opinion poll carried out by the STEM agency. The left-wing party enjoy 26.2 percent backing, one percentage point more than their main rivals, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. 11.6 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Communists, with 8.7 declaring support for the new party TOP 09. The Christian Democrats and the Greens would not gain the necessary 5 percent of votes to enter the Czech Parliament, the survey indicates.
The Constitutional Court has postponed a final verdict on whether the
EU’s Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech law until next Tuesday. The
court held a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, in response to a
petition filed a month ago by a group of senators loyal to the Eurosceptic
Czech president, Václav Klaus. They say Lisbon would threaten Czech
The Czech Republic is the only state in the EU not to have completed ratification of the Lisbon treaty. If the Constitutional Court gives it the green light, President Klaus would be obliged to put his signature to ratification. However, Mr Klaus is demanding that the Czech Republic receive an opt-out from Lisbon’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. He says that otherwise Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after Word War II could seek to reclaim property.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, is hoping to secure a deal with EU leaders in Brussels later this week under which the opt-out would be granted, if Mr Klaus promises to sign Lisbon. The president’s office said on Tuesday that his chancellor Jiří Weigl would be in the Czech delegation at the summit.
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