Bernd Posselt, the head of the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, the main
interest group of Sudetengerman expellees, is pushing for a more direct
dialogue between the Sudetengerman minority and the Czech government. Mr.
Posselt urged German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to bring up the
Sudetengermans’ call for more direct communication with the Czech
government during his working visit to Prague on Tuesday. Mr. Posselt also
called on the German government to discuss all matters that concern
Czech-German relations with the Sudetengerman Lanndsmannschaft ahead of
discussing them with Prague.
Mr. Westerwelle is travelling to Prague on the occasion of the 20-year-anniversary of the signing of the Czech-German Declaration on Mutual Relations and Their Future. Since its signature, Czech-German relations have improved significantly, with both countries now stating that ties between the two states have never been stronger.
The Czech Republic has expressed strong disatisfaction with a Ukrainian court ruling sentencing a former interior minister – who served in former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s cabinet – to four years in prison (minus time already served). On Monday, the court sentenced Yuri Lutsenko for alleged embezzlement and abuse of office; his former boss, Mrs Tymoshenko, is serving a seven-year sentence for alleged abuse of office. The Czech Foreign Ministry on Tuesday expressed concern over the ruling, saying that Mr Lutsenko’s trial, like that of his former boss, was far-removed from European standards and principles regarding human rights. The European Union as well as the United States had already condemned Mr Lutsenko’s trial as well as the imprisonment of Mrs Tymoshenko, calling them politically motivated. Mrs Tymoshenko’s husband, Oleksandr, and her former economy minister, Bohdan Danylyshyn, have both been granted asylum in the Czech Republic.
Several dozen people demonstrated outside the Syrian embassy in Prague on Sunday. The event was called by the Free Syria Initiative, which wants to draw attention to the long-running violence in the country and support the popular democratic movement. Similar gatherings have been taking place in recent days at Syrian embassies around the world. The Prague embassy’s website was also attacked by hackers on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he supports a UN Security Council resolution on Syria, but does not believe it will change developments in the country. Speaking from Munich where he is attending an international security conference, Mr Schwarzenberg told the Czech Press Agency that it is necessary to send a signal to Syrian President Bashar Asad that the West is not indifferent to the violent suppression of anti-government protests in Syria. The Security Council is to vote on the resolution on Saturday, but Russia has warned that it will block its passage. The Czech Republic is not currently represented on the council.
A fierce row has broken out in the Czech government over the prime
minister’s refusal to sign up to the EU fiscal compact. Sharp criticism
of the decision from the country’s foreign minister, who said it would
damage Czech interests, elicited a fierce counter-attack from Prime
Minister Petr Nečas. At a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday evening Mr.
Nečas slammed the foreign minister for what he called a rash and
ill-considered remark. He moreover criticized the work of the Foreign
Ministry and advised the foreign minister to devote more time to
his duties properly.
In his own defense Mr. Nečas said that in Brussles he had acted precisely within the mandate he had received from the centre-right cabinet
Mr. Schwarzenberg who on Tuesday criticized the prime minister for harming the Czech Republic’s interests, speaking ahead of a four-day official visit to Israel, said he wanted to address the situation upon his return. The Czech foreign minister has repeatedly stressed the importance of staying in the European mainstream and recently even threatened to leave the cabinet should the country decide to go its own way. Mr. Schwarzenberg hinted that the real reason behind the country’s refusal to sign up to the treaty was discord within the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party, whose conservative faction opposed the move.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has dismissed criticism from the EC that the
country’s approach to foreign applicants requesting a residence permit
violates the EU's directive regarding the free movement of people. Among
others, the EC has expressed objections to the policy of asking residence
permit applicants to prove that they have secured accommodation in the
The EC says this is not in harmony with the free movement directive that all EU states were supposed to transpose in their legislation by April 2006 and has threatened to file action against the Czech Republic over its alleged failure to observe the said directive. The Czech Republic has two months to react to the criticism. If Brussels finds Prague's response insufficient, it may hand the issue over to the European Court of Justice, which may impose sanctions on the country.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says that a referendum on adopting the euro will call the country’s EU pledges into question. The statement was made in response to Wednesday´s decision by the Czech cabinet that any accession to the EU´s planned fiscal discipline pact should be decided on through a national referendum on entering the euro zone. Mr Schwarzenberg said he was categorically opposed to a referendum, which would challenge what the country promised in its accession treaty and make the Czech Republic look like it is not a serious partner. He previously said regarding the fiscal discipline pact that he would not participate in a government that would lead the country out of the main stream of European integration.
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.
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