Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the press on Monday that he would be keeping his fingers crossed for the new Prime Minister of Greece, who he said would not have an easy job to do. Responding to the results of repeated early elections in the indebted country, Mr Schwarzenberg told the Czech Press Agency that he should rather offer his condolences. The chairman of the winning conservative party, New Democracy, met with the Greek president on Monday and agreed that a governing coalition must be established as soon as possible.
President Václav Klaus has said there is no good solution to the debt crisis in the eurozone In an interview for Czech Radio on Sunday the euro sceptic Czech head of state poured scorn on hopes that a victory of pro-EU forces in Greece –namely the conservative New Democracy party - would help resolve the country’s problems. Mr. Klaus said that no matter who wins, Greece’s ruined economy and staggering debt will remain and the country may face months of protracted agony. Mr. Klaus stressed that Greece had not precipitated the debt crisis in the eurozone but was merely its victim. He said the initial mistake had been in letting Greece join the eurozone in the first place and it was now paying the price.
The heads of government of the Višegrad Group countries will meet in Prague on June 22 ahead of an EU summit at which the block’s leaders are expected to try to develop a road map towards fiscal union as well as debating the worsening economic situation in Spain and the outcome of elections in Greece. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia will be consulting their positions ahead of the meeting. Of the four countries, Slovakia alone has adopted the euro, but the economic problems of the eurozone are expected to impact all EU members. The Czech Republic is particularly vulnerable due to its dependence on exports most of which are destined for EU member states.
In this week’s business news: the Greek ambassador to the Czech Republic has said that Greece must remain in Eurozone, the daily Lidové noviny writes that ČEZ may loose up to ten billion Czech crowns due to investments into Albania’s power grid, Russia’s oil delivery to Czech Republic is likely to fall short of target in May, the Finance Ministry is selling state bonds, and Czech Railways expands its fleet.
The Czech Republic will adopt the euro no earlier than in some eight to ten years’ time, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told the lower house of Parliament on Wednesday during a debate on the new rescue package for the eurozone. Arguing that a Czech approval with the plan will not automatically bring additional costs, Mr Nečas said that future governments will have to discuss such guarantees at a time when they decide to join the eurozone. The Czech Republic is technically bound to join the eurozone by its 2004 accession treaty to the EU. However, no official date for joining the common currency zone has been set yet.
In an interview with the London bureau of the news channel CNN, Czech President Václav Klaus said that Euro-zone member states must be allowed to leave the currency. He compared the current situation in Europe to that of Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s, when the communist regime started collapsing. He added that Europe is at a point where it needs radical change instead of partial reforms. Mr Klaus is a known euro-skeptic. He was in London on Thursday to give a lecture.
Czech President Václav Klaus told the French TV station France 24 that the common European currency was a “catastrophic project riddled with faults”. He added that a public debate about joining the Eurozone was not taking place in Czech Republic and that therefore, no timeframe for when this would be the case had been determined. Speaking on the issue of the fiscal compact, the Czech president said that his country’s government had refused to join the agreement because it would have transferred the nation’s state budget responsibility to Brussels. Mr Klaus was speaking to reporters from the TV network on Monday, on occasion of a visit to Paris. The interview will air on Friday.
Likewise speaking at the Žofín forum the governor of the Czech National Bank Miroslav Singer said that in his view the Czech Republic would not be ready to adopt the euro before 2017. He said that a serious debate on euro adoption could start in 2014 or 2015 once the country had got its own finances in order and expected negotiations to last for approximately two years. Although the Czech Republic has not set a target date for euro adoption Prime Minister Necas said euro adoption was still on the agenda.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has told the Austrian daily Der Standard he still believes the Czech Republic will eventually sign the European Union’s new fiscal treaty. In the interview, published on Friday, the minister, who is also chairman of the TOP 09 party and a presidential hopeful, reiterated his conviction the country belonged in the EU core and also expressed support for energy reforms meant to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. Regarding the Czech Republic, he rejected the idea of a referendum on the adoption of the single European currency, saying a promise had been made when joining the EU. He added, however, that his opinion differed from the prime minister’s. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and the foreign minister have clashed on a number of occasions over the fiscal compact; Mr Nečas was the only EU statesman besides British Prime Minister David Cameron not to sign the document. There have been some suggestions the Czech signature could be added later.
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