TOP 09, the second largest party in the government, will only sign a new coalition deal with the Civic Democrats and LIDEM if it contains a commitment to the Czech Republic joining the EU’s Fiscal Compact by the end of 2013. The Czech Republic and the UK are the only members that have not signed up to the treaty, which sets strict limits for the budget deficits of eurozone states. TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek, who is the minister of finance, announced the demand after a meeting of party leaders on Tuesday.
The deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, Industry and Trade Minister
Martin Kuba, has described TOP 09’s demand regarding the EU treaty as a
pretext for bringing about early elections. He suggested that the present
moment could be a good opportunity for Mr. Kalousek, who is regarded as the
de facto leader of TOP 09, to capitalise on the showing by its official
chairman, Karel Schwarzenberg, in the presidential election, in which he
received over two million votes in the second round runoff.
The Civic Democrats say there is no reason for Prague to sign up to the fiscal compact as the country has not adopted the euro; furthermore, they say, Czechs should decide on the matter in a referendum, because it would hand over some powers to Brussels.
The Civic Democrats have said they wish to have "appropriate
relations" with president-elect Miloš Zeman and to cooperate with him
in the fields of foreign and security policy. However, they rejected his
view that early elections should be held. Reacting to suggestions that Mr.
Zeman could dismiss him once in office, Prime Minister Petr Necaš said
such a move would represent an illegitimate constitutional putsch; he said
only the lower house had the power to call early elections.
Within hours of his victory on Saturday, Mr. Zeman questioned the legitimacy of the unpopular government, partly because it contains LIDEM, a breakaway group from the disgraced Public Affairs party.
Miloš Zeman’s political party, which have no representation in Parliament, have reported heightened interest in membership in the wake of his success in the presidential election, Novinky.cz reported on Tuesday. Vratislav Mynář, the chairman of the Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites, told the news website that the grouping wished to prevent careerists entering its ranks. It now has over 2,000 members.
Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that the Citizens’ Rights
Party-Zemanites could collaborate in some way with the Social Democrats,
Mr. Zeman’s former party. Newspaper Hospodářské noviny said Social
Democrats’ first deputy chairman Michal Hašek had indicated that the
Zemanites and his party could even merge in the future.
While some Social Democrats fear the future president will undermine the party and settle scores arising from personal animosity, others remain loyal to the man who in the 1990s built the party into an election winning force.
Some prisoners freed from Czech jails this month under a presidential
amnesty did not actually qualify for early release, Mladá fronta Dnes
reported on Tuesday. The newspaper said some judges made mistakes due to
the fact they were dealing with so many cases in a short time period, while
others have said the wording of the amnesty is unclear. The minister of
justice, Pavel Blažek, said it was not possible to return prisoners who
had been mistakenly released.
Over 6,000 prisoners serving terms of less than a year were freed early under the amnesty, which President Václav Klaus said he had declared to mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Republic on January 1.
The chief of protocol at Prague Castle, Jindřich Forejt, is set to become the Czech ambassador to the Vatican. The information was confirmed by the minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg. According to press reports, he had held off from nominating Mr. Forejt, who was backed by President Václav Klaus; in return, the president had dragged his feet about putting his signature to the appointment of several other ambassadors.
The president of the Czech Federation of the Food and Drink Industries, Miroslav Toman, has called on the Czech authorities to ban imports of foodstuffs from Poland unless it introduces more thorough controls. However, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture said such a move was not the order of the day. Some supermarkets removed Polish-produced biscuits from their shelves when it was found they could contain rat poison, although in sufficient quantities to harm human health. Last year, some table salt imported from Poland was also found to be contaminated.
Midfielder Tomáš Rosický will return to the Czech squad for an away friendly against Turkey next Wednesday. The Arsenal player, who is 32, last played for the national soccer team against Greece at Euro 2012, where he sustained an Achilles’ tendon injury. He has also suffered from a calf problem this season. Tomáš Huebschmann, Václav Pilář and Tomáš Necid are all unavailable for the game, while Stanislav Tecl of Viktoria Plzeň receives his first call-up. The Czechs are third in their World Cup qualifying group and face Denmark and Armenia in March.
At a press conference the German Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said on Monday that the government is expecting good relations with the Czech Republic to continue under Miloš Zeman as they had in the previous ten years. It has chosen not to react to the debate over the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia that evolved during the last two weeks of the campaign. In the meantime, the leading German daily Die Welt published an article saying that the government should not invite Miloš Zeman to Berlin, because of the anti-German rhetoric that was used in his campaign. Some other German and Austrian media have expressed similar views.