President's anniversary address under fire

29-10-2005

The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is facing criticism from a number of politicians, who say Friday's address marking the 87th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia was too political. Besides stressing that Czechs should value their independence, President Klaus warned of European integration and EU rules and regulations.

To Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek such anti-EU sentiment was misplaced as it is not shared by the majority of Czech citizens. The Communist Party's Pavel Kovacik believes the President took the opportunity to use the address as a pre-election speech - the general elections are to be held next year and the chances of a victory for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats, which Mr Klaus founded, look promising. Most of the leading Czech press also criticised the presidential address, saying that Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president, would have supported European integration.