The Czech government has agreed that a referendum should be held on the Czech Republic’s possible participation in a new European Union treaty aimed at tightening budgetary controls in the Eurozone. The Civic Democrats, who lead the government, on Wednesday pushed the policy through in conjunction with Public Affairs, the smallest party in the coalition. TOP 09 deputies were opposed to the idea. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said a referendum on signing up to the pact could be linked to a second referendum on adopting the common European currency. He also said the cabinet would need the authorization of the president before it could negotiate or sign the treaty. President Václav Klaus has been critical of the pact and has said he will refuse to put his signature to it. Mr. Nečas said the government would only adopt a definitive position on the matter once a final version of the EU document has been produced.
The fate of a Czech citizen aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship which
capsized off the Italian coast on Friday remains unknown, the online news
portal lidovky.cz reported. There was one Czech national traveling aboard
the ship according to the passengers’ list released on Saturday; however,
the Czech Foreign Ministry has not confirmed that any Czechs were traveling
on the ship.
Some 4,000 passengers were aboard the Costa Concordia which was launched in 2006 by Czech supermodel Eva Herzigova. Three people died in the accident that occurred when the ship ran aground, while another 70 are missing.
Zambia’s Interior Minister Kennedy Sekeni has called on three Czech nationals who were charged with espionage but fled the country in December to return for trial, Reuters news agency reported on Saturday. Mr Sekeni said a special police team was investigating how the men left the country. The three Czechs, who work for a Dutch firm, visited Zambia after a business trip to South Africa, and were arrested after they took pictures outside a local military base. They were charged with espionage and face up to 30 years in jail. They returned to the Czech Republic with the help of Czech authorities but no details were given about their escape. Spokesman for the Czech Foreign Minister Vít Kolář said on Saturday the ministry would not comment on the case.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Saturday dismissed a proposal by the
senior coalition Civic Democrats to hold a popular vote on joining the
EU’s planned fiscal union. Speaking after talks in Vienna with Austrian
President Heinz Fischer, Mr Klaus, who opposes the plan, said politicians
should assume responsibility and take a decision. The Czech president
rejected the planned fiscal union as “radical liquidation” of member
The Czech coalition government remains divided on the issue; PM, and Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas hinted he was opposed to the plan, while Foreign Minister and chair of the coalition TOP 09 party Karel Schwarzenberg threatened to quit the cabinet if the Czech Republic does not join.
In related news, the Foreign Ministry on Thursday distanced itself from the report printed in the daily Lidové noviny. In a statement, the ministry writes that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is not in favor of an unconditional Czech entry into the planned EU fiscal pact. According to the ministry, Mr. Schwarzenberg does not support a fiscal union that would strip the Czech Republic of a sovereign state budget policy. However, the draft currently being debated in Brussels is much more advantageous for the Czech Republic than a previous one. Whether the Czechs will join the union depends on the final draft, he said.
The husband of Ukraine’s jailed opposition leader Julija Tymoshenko has
been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. Czech Interior
Minister Jan Kubice confirmed the news at a press briefing on Friday
afternoon, saying the request had been filed several months ago.
The former Ukrainian prime minister was sentenced to seven years in prison last October for abuse of office in what the European Union denounced as a politically-motivated trial. The asylum granted to her husband Oleksander Tymoshenko is the second high profile case the country has dealt with in the past 12 months. Last year it granted asylum to a former economics minister in the Tymoshenko cabinet.
Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions says the request for asylum was financially motivated, claiming that Tymoshenko’s husband wanted to transfer abroad funds that his wife received from political sponsors.
Three Czechs who were detained and charged with espionage in Zambia have returned home. They showed up unexpectedly at their doorsteps at the end of the year and have refused to disclose any information regarding the nature of their escape. The Czech Foreign Ministry which made an all out effort to secure their release through regular diplomatic channels has put an information embargo on the case.
The Czech police will investigate whether the Czech communist party leader broke the law when he sent condolences on the death of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. In his letter, Czech communist party chair Vojtěch Filip said, among other things, that the late North Korean dictator sacrificed himself for the well-being of his people.
The Czech ambassador to Thailand, and former general secretary of the country’s foreign ministry, Milan Sedláček, has been charged with fraud and will be tried in a Czech court, along with two other people, the news website tyden.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr Sedláček faces accusations of embezzling some 1.5 million crowns for seminars that were supposed to take place in China, Singapore and Hong Kong in 2008; however, the police suspect the events never took place. The ambassador has been recalled to the Czech Republic pending trial.
Amidst media speculation that the Kremlin ignored the death of former Czech leader Václav Havel, the Russian embassy in Prague on Tuesday said an official condolence was sent to President Václav Klaus on Monday. A spokesman for the embassy said the condolence on behalf of the Russian Federation’s leaders, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was sent through diplomatic channels to Prague Castle. The spokesman also said the embassy had not received an official invitation for the funeral.
Czech Ambassador to Ethiopia Pavel Mikeš: ‘If you wait long enough, an egg will walk on two legs’
New debate erupts over use of -ová suffix in Czech female surnames
The Czechoslovak occultist plot to kill Hitler by magic
Archaeologists find unique grave of Roman era warlord in Uherský Brod
Czech companies struggling with labour shortage