The White House on Friday published a statement issued earlier in the week by US President Barack Obama, congratulating the Czechs on 91 years of statehood. October 28 is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, commemorating the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The Czechs and Slovaks then split in 1993. In the brief statement issued on Wednesday, a traditional diplomatic gesture, the US president called the Czech Republic “a close ally and vital partner”, sharing “a history in the struggle for freedom and democracy”. Mr Obama has spoken on other occasions about Czech-US ties, including in a key address in the Czech capital earlier this year, where he outlined the need for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Young British pop star Lily Allen took to the stage for some 1,500 people at a Prague club on Friday, performing songs from her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You, as well as from her debut. The performance lasted for a little more than an hour, ČTK reported, and included the hits Not Fair and The Fear. Earlier this year, The Fear topped the charts in the Czech Republic for several weeks.
The British newspaper The Guardian has reported that European leaders
including Germany’s Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy
were “incensed” over a letter the head of the British Conservative
Party David Cameron sent to Czech President Václav Klaus. The move, taken
in September, was seen as a clear attempt to delay and help scupper the
EU’s Lisbon treaty. The criticism by the EU leaders, the daily reported,
came to a head at the EU summit in Brussels.
The Czech President Václav Klaus said on Friday he would raise no further conditions for the treaty’s ratification, after the EU granted the Czech Republic an opt-out on the treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The move means Mr Klaus could sign after the Czech Constitutional Court issues a ruling on a final complaint next week. The British Conservative Party itself is now moving away from earlier plans to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, The Guardian reported. The Czech Republic is the only country remaining to ratify the document, which reforms the running of the 27-member bloc.
The Social Democrats say that an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights will weaken the position of Czech citizens and argue that the government should have asked for legal guarantees pertaining to the Beneš decrees alone. The Green Party has expressed the view that the concession won by the government could back-fire. Meanwhile, the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions is so concerned by the possible implications of the exemption it is considering strike action to try and prevent the opt-out from coming into force.
According to the outcome of an October survey conducted by the STEM agency, caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fischer is by far and away the most popular politician in the country, trusted by 79 percent of Czechs. Mr. Fisher has surged ahead of President Klaus who has topped the popularity ladder for years and who now has a 61 percent credit rating. Other Czech politicians have a credit ratings between 20 and 40 percent.
Czech President Václav Klaus said on Friday he was pleased with the wording agreed by European Union leaders on an opt-out clause in the bloc's reform treaty and would raise no further conditions for ratification. Under Czech law the president must now wait for a Czech Constitutional Court ruling on a challenge against the treaty raised by a group of right-wing senators. The verdict is expected on Tuesday, and most lawyers expect the court to say the charter does not conflict with the Czech Constitution. It threw out a similar challenge by the same group of senators last year.
The Czech government has issued a statement saying that the opt-out from
the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights granted to the Czech Republic by EU
leaders on Thursday will not put Czech citizens at a disadvantage or in any
way put their rights at risk. The statement comes in response to
suggestions that the opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights
demanded by President Vaclav Klaus would in future prevent Czech citizens
from defending their rights in European courts of law.
The opt-out, similar to those granted to Britain and Poland, was approved as a last-minute concession to Czech President Václav Klaus who refused to sign the Lisbon treaty without guarantees that it would not allow ethnic Germans forced out of the former Czechoslovakia after World War II to reclaim their property. The president says he is satisfied with the arrangement but there have been mixed reactions from the country’s political parties.
Former Czech legendary football striker František Veselý died of heart failure on Friday at the age of 65. The famous right-winger was a member of the Czechoslovak team that won the European championship in 1976. Veselý played a big part in this success, scoring one goal and assisting another in the semifinal match against the Netherlands. Veselý has played as many as 920 matches in his career, including 34 for Czechoslovak national team. He played for Slavia Praha from 1953 to 1980.
Czech electricity giant ČEZ closed offers at midday on Friday for a massive contract to build two new nuclear reactors at its existing Temelín facility in the Czech Republic with the option of building a further three at other sites in Europe. The company is said to have received several dozen offers for what has been described by local media as the energy contract of the century. The offers will now be examined with those who make the grade to continue in the tender likely to be declared in January, he added. A contract winner could be declared in 2011 with construction estimated at around 10 years. ČEZ did not set out concrete specification for the reactors saying that would tilt the tender in favour of one company or another.
Caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fisher on Friday sharply rejected suggestions that the Czech delegation had failed to defend the country’s interests in Brussels. Mr. Fischer said that his team had done the best possible job under the circumstances, had not overstepped its mandate and had not in any way put at risk the rights of Czech citizens. Responding to criticism from the Social Democrats, Mr. Fisher said that trying to arrange an exemption pertaining to the Beneš decrees alone would have buried the Lisbon treaty. He said the Social Democrats knew perfectly well what the Czech government delegation would strive to achieve in Brussels and had not voiced any criticism ahead of the trip.
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