On Saturday, Israel launched one of the most violent attacks against Palestinians in the history of the Middle East conflict. The Israeli blitz, unleashed in retaliation for ongoing rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, is said to have killed over 300 Palestinians and wounded more than 1,400 others. In view of its upcoming EU presidency, helping to find a solution to the drawn out Middle East conflict has become one of the Czech Republic’s priorities.
A new poll conducted by STEM suggests that 86 percent of Czechs are pleased with the election of Barack Obama to become the 44th president of the United States. According to the data, only four percent of Czechs paid no attention to the US elections, with 64 percent of respondents having a favourable view of Obama during the election campaign. STEM also broke down polling according to Czech party affiliation, finding that 19 percent of Civic Democrats, 18 percent of communists and 17 percent of Christian Democrats were unhappy with the results of the election. 92 percent of Green Party supporters and 90 percent of Social Democrats were pleased with the election outcome, according to the poll. 78 percent of those queried also stated that EU-US relations will improve under an Obama administration. Barack Obama will be sworn into office on January 20th 2009.
Just two weeks before the Czech Republic takes over the rotating presidency of the EU from France, the French president has taken a swipe at the Czechs. Nicolas Sarkozy says it is insulting that some Czech public buildings are refusing to fly the EU flag – an apparent reference to Prague Castle, home to the fiercely Euro-sceptic Czech president, Václav Klaus.
One of the things Czechs want to focus on during the country’s upcoming EU presidency is deepening Europes relations with Israel. The Czechs are even hoping that a first-ever summit between the EU and Israel could be held at some point during the first six months of 2009. On Monday, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit came to Prague for talks with Czech President Václav Klaus, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and other officials. His mission was to make sure that the voice of the Arab world is also heard, and that the Czech presidency
In today’s One on One, Jan Velinger’s guest is the economist Petr Mach, a former advisor to Czech President Václav Klaus and the head of the conservative think- tank CEP - the Prague-based Centre for Economic and Politics. All eyes have been on the 33-year-old since he announced recently that he and colleagues would be founding a new right-wing political party, one that would take a tougher stance on the European Union, specifically the Lisbon treaty. The idea is also to present conservative-minded voters at home an alternative to the Civic Democratic
One thing that was not cultivated in communist Czechoslovakia was the art of public speaking. Anyone of a certain age will remember the endless monologues of party secretaries, but twenty years on, there is a growing awareness of the importance of public debate. Many young Czechs with an interest in politics have followed with fascination the political sparring that goes on in Britain’s parliament, and with this in mind, the British Chamber of Commerce in Prague recently organized a debate, taking the British parliament as its model. It was the
Some disaffected Civic Democrats as well as some of the party’s conservative voters – disappointed with the current direction of their party under leader Mirek Topolánek – could soon have new options available on the political right. Figures close to the Czech President, Václav Klaus, made clear earlier that they were planning to found a new party tough on EU integration and tough on the Lisbon treaty – now that will be a reality. On Monday, the 33-year-old economist Petr Mach, a former advisor to Mr Klaus and the head of the conservative think-tank
Less than a month before it is due to take up the EU presidency, Prague hosted the first event linked to its new role. The President of the European Parliament, along with the heads of the Parliament’s political groups, came to Prague to discuss the Czech agenda for Europe, with the Lisbon treaty high on the list.
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.
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