President Vaclav Klaus will call a referendum on the country's EU entry next week. Parliament has recommended a June 13th and 14th term and a spokesman for the President's office said on Friday that President Klaus would officially announce the referendum for those dates on April 24th. Opinion polls suggest that the Czech Republic will approve EU membership by a large margin.
Meanwhile, a row has broken out between President Klaus and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda in the wake of the signing of the EU accession treaty in Athens on Wednesday. President Klaus says he feels insulted by remarks that the Foreign Minister made when speaking to journalists in the wake of the ceremony. The Foreign Minister allegedly said that President Klaus' knowledge of the workings of the European Union was "superficial and inadequate". The President's spokesman Tomas Klavana said the remarks were "uncalled for, incorrect and misleading". The President has reportedly demanded an explanation in person but according to the Foreign Minister's spokesman Mr. Svoboda has no intention of going to Prague Castle "to be mentored by the head of state".
The Interior Ministry has said it is planning to reduce the strengthened security measures effected in connection with the war on Iraq. A ministry spokesman said that in view of current developments in Iraq, the National Security Council had advised reducing the number of soldiers involved in the security operation by half. Security around Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Prague's Ruzyne Airport and selected embassies will remain the same.
The governments of the Czech Republic and Hungary are poised to join the International Whaling Commission as opponents of pro-whaling Japan and Norway. According to the Czech branch of Greenpeace, which is spear-heading an anti-whaling campaign in Central Europe, environment ministers from the Prague and Budapest governments have agreed to join the commission before a crucial meeting in June. Greenpeace is also pushing for Poland and Slovakia to join the commission, hoping that the four countries will provide the votes needed to continue a worldwide moratorium on whale hunting.
The clients of the bankrupt Union Banka are planning to demonstrate for their money outside Parliament on April 28th. A spokesman for the group said that they had a right to get 100% of their savings, pointing out that the clients of Moravia Banka, which went bankrupt some time ago received full refunds up to four million crowns. The clients of Union Banka have been promised 90 % of their savings but only up to a 800.000 crown limit. Over 200 thousand clients have been damaged by the bank's fall.
The Easter weekend should be fairly cold, with rain across the country, snow in the mountains and day temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.
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