The upper house of the Czech parliament, the Senate, voted to send the so-called Lisbon Treaty to the Constitution Court on Thursday, a move that could delay Czech ratification of the EU reform treaty by several months. The motion was passed thanks to senators from the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, the main party in the coalition government. But why did they delay approving what is essentially the government’s own foreign policy?
Just under three years ago, Qatari prince Hamid Bin Abdul Sani al-Thani was found guilty of sexually abusing young girls in the Czech Republic. Despite protests from within the judiciary, he was extradited to Qatar, where all charges against him were eventually dropped. Three years on, the question of whether to try him again in absentia has once more been raised, amidst criticism of the justice ministry’s role in the affair.
Martin Palouš was one of the first signatories of the Charter 77 protest document. Since 1989 he has been a parliamentary deputy, an academic, and Czech ambassador to Washington. Now, however, Mr Palouš represents the Czech Republic at the United Nations in New York. When we spoke last week at his office on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, we began with the subject of Charter 77 and his days as a dissident.
A Prague court has ruled in favour of the Foreign Ministry in a case involving a female employee over alleged discrimination. The decision comes after a lower-instance court awarded former diplomat Adriana Bašovská one million crowns compensation for unequal treatment at the ministry last year. In the case, she was stripped of authorisation in handling classified data by a superior. The ministry appealed the decision and the Prague municipal court found evidence that the steps taken were the same in the case of a male colleague. Mrs Bašovská worked at the Czech embassy in Libya; in 2002 she was recalled by the Foreign Ministry in Prague. Her superior claimed that she had breached security principles.
A report appearing in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has been raising eyebrows across the Czech Republic. It suggests that US negotiators were initially prepared to place both the proposed radar and rocket bases on Czech soil. It also suggests that increasingly rocky US-Polish negotiations may lead the US government to again seek to turn to the Czech Republic for both. Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra has insisted that such negotiations were carried out under the former governments of Vladimír Špidla and Jiří Paroubek – not under the
Following the country’s entry into the Schengen border-free zone Czechs can now travel around much of the European Union without having to show their passport. At least, that is how things are supposed to work. But last week Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek complained that the German police were harassing Czechs with unnecessary ID checks on the other side of the border, claims which the German Embassy has strongly denied.
It was smiles and handshakes all round at the NATO summit in Bucharest last Thursday when the United States and the Czech Republic announced they had reached agreement on building a radar base on Czech territory as part of the U.S. missile defence shield. But it was clear to all that the road to implementing the agreement would be long and difficult. The past weekend has indicted possible pitfalls for Czech diplomacy as the U.S. and Russian presidents strove to find common ground on missile defense.
The United States and the Czech Republic announced at a NATO summit in Bucharest on Thursday they had reached an agreement on building a missile-defense radar on Czech soil. The announcement came after months of complicated negotiations and vehement opposition from Russia, as well as a number of EU member states who did not like the idea of a bilateral defense deal between Prague and Washington. But the Bucharest summit produced a breakthrough, with NATO leaders agreeing to endorse Washington’s missile defense plans after it promised to explore
It’s being hailed as the biggest NATO summit ever – leaders of the 26 NATO countries are in the Romanian capital Bucharest at the moment for key talks on everything from Macedonia’s membership to the war in Afghanistan. But for the Czech delegation the most important issue on the table is the U.S. plan to build a radar base about 75km southwest of Prague. The NATO summit, it seems, has produced a breakthrough.
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