This Friday saw the last in a series of EU summits held in Prague this week: representatives of the Czech EU presidency and the European Commission met with Southern Corridor countries, including Azerbaijan, Egypt, Turkey and others, to discuss energy transport from the Caspian region to Europe. Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said the corridor could be could be ushered in by the Nabucco pipeline. He stressed that more than energy was at stake but a “two-way exchange on goods, investment, labour and knowledge”.
A large new commercial development is set to go up near the bottom of Prague’s main thoroughfare Wenceslas Square, the Czech News Agency reported. Construction work will begin in March 2011 on a large shopping and office centre on a site between the square and the Na Příkopě, Jindřišská and Panská streets. It is expected to house up to 3,000 office workers and employ another 11,500 in shops, restaurants and other businesses.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko will not take part in the EU’s
Eastern Partnership summit due to be held in Prague on May 7th, the CTK
news agency reported on Friday, citing a source close to the Czech EU
presidency. According to the source, Belarus will be represented by Deputy
Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko. President Lukashenko has come under fire
for his authoritarian style of rule and there were mixed feelings about
whether Belarus should be invited to the summit. President Klaus made it
clear that he would not be welcome at Prague Castle if he did arrive.
The Eastern Partnership scheme aims to forge closer ties between the EU and six former Soviet republics, a plan that has angered Moscow. It aims to accelerate political and economic reforms in the region in return for EU support and concessions of trade and travel. While the Czech EU presidency has championed the project some of the old EU member states remain lukewarm about the idea.
In related news, Czech President Václav Klaus made clear on Friday he will snub the Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko if he chooses to attend the summit in Prague. In a statement released by his office on Friday, the president made clear he would not shake hands with Mr Lukashenko nor would he receive him at Prague Castle.
Pre-war Prague with its multi-national and multi-cultural environment has inspired many scholars and writers who explore the life of Czechs, Germans and Jews in the city of a hundred spires before it was swept away by the two totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Our guest in this edition of One on One is Professor Peter Demetz, the author of Prague in Black and Gold, Stage: Prague, and other works. Mr Demetz was born in Prague in the 1920s to a German and Jewish family but left the country after the communist takeover of 1948 and later became
Meanwhile, a two-day meeting of finance ministers from around the European Union gets underway in Prague on Friday, with increasing regulation of the financial sector across the bloc highest on the agenda. The meeting will be chaired by Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek and will also provide ministers with a platform to expand upon the decisions made at the G20 summit held in London on Thursday. The meeting is also being attended by the head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and former head of the IMF Jacques de Larosiere.
A no-fly zone with a radius of 50 kilometres will be imposed in the skies over Prague during American president Barack Obama’s visit, it was announced on Friday. Only air-traffic with special dispensation will be allowed to fly over the Czech capital between Saturday lunchtime and midnight on Sunday, a spokesperson from the Czech army told journalists. Army planes and helicopters will be used as part of the security measures implemented especially for the American president’s visit. Mr Obama is arriving in Prague on Saturday evening where he is expected to dine with his wife Michelle. On Sunday he will meet with EU leaders at an informal summit and deliver a much-anticipated speech in the vicinity of Prague Castle. Thousands of Czech police have been drafted in to protect the president, and American security services will also be on duty.
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