NATO foreign ministers on Wednesday affirmed their support for US plans to install anti-missile defenses in central Europe saying that the deployment of a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland would make a "substantial contribution" to protecting Europe from the threat of long-range ballistic missiles. Despite the clear implication that the US missile defense components would be incorporated into European defense structures, the statement has left critics in the Czech Republic unconvinced.
The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is currently in Prague on the first leg of a European tour. After a meeting with the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, he was reunited with an old friend: former president Václav Havel, on whose invitation he came to the Czech capital. The Dalai Lama is also due to visit Brussels and Poland, where he will meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This has angered China, which has pulled out of a planned EU-China summit.
Czech Foreign Karel Schwarzenberg has apologised for the publication of a transcript of a meeting last month between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. While some Czech officials have denied the authenticity of the record, the magazine Reflex, which printed the minutes, claims it an interesting insight into how power deals are struck.
A report by the website Aktualne.cz suggests that US president-elect Barack Obama will not visit the Czech Republic in April next year. Previously, it had been suggested that the new president could be persuaded to attend an EU summit in Prague, held as part of the Czech Republic’s EU presidency. Though no formal announcement was ever made, some Czech politicians strongly suggested that the US president would attend. According to Aktualne.cz, this option has now been rendered moot, as then President Obama will be attending a G20 summit in London held at the same time.
Wednesday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court that the European Union's Lisbon Treaty does not violate the Czech constitution has been welcomed and scorned from the two sides of the Lisbon debate. So what next for Czech ratification and the treaty itself? Radio Prague spoke to Roman Joch, director of the conservative think-tank the Civic Institute.
After the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the Lisbon treaty was in line with the Czech constitution, ratification of the key document in the Czech Republic is arguably back on track. But even so, ratifying the treaty may not be easy. Opponents who fear the document erodes national sovereignty and cedes too much power to Brussels, have indicated they will do everything in their power to stop it from being passed. Supporters, meanwhile, would like to see the document ratified as soon as possible, preferably before the Czech Republic
Supporters of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty were given cause for celebration on Wednesday morning as the Constitutional Court ruled that the treaty does not violate the Czech Constitution. This landmark ruling paves the way for the Czech parliament to begin the process of ratifying the treaty. The Czech Republic is the only EU member which has not voted on Lisbon, amid a dispute over sovereignty that has pitted the government against president Václav Klaus. But Mr Klaus isn’t giving up yet.
All eyes were on the Czech Constitutional Court on Tuesday, where a verdict was expected on whether the EU’s Lisbon treaty is in line with the Czech constitution. If the court had rejected Lisbon, it could well have thrown the EU into disarray. The opposite verdict would have paved the way for the Czech Parliament to vote on ratification. As it happened, the ruling has been postponed until Wednesday.
One of the key issues of the upcoming Czech EU presidency will be the future of the Lisbon treaty, but the Czech Republic is the only EU country that has yet not voted on the reform document. Six weeks before the Czechs take over, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has moved to deal with his party rivals and get the treaty out of the way.
The Czech government has suspended the issuing of long-term visas for Vietnamese nationals. The reason? The application process in Hanoi seems to be controlled by criminal gangs. What’s more, this move comes just days after a new report suggested Vietnamese citizens here in the Czech Republic were increasingly involved in organised crime.
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