The European Union and Pakistan are planning to hold their first ever summit, the Reuters news agency reported on Saturday quoting sources from the Czech EU presidency. The summit should take place on June 17 in Brussels. The 27-member bloc and the United States seek to boost ties with Pakistan because of concern over the spread of Islamic militancy in the country. A source from the Czech presidency of the bloc said that the EU wanted to strengthen the civilian Pakistani government by showing strong support at the highest level. The agenda of the planned summit should include topics such as fight against terrorism, cooperation on the rule of law, and the improvement of trading relations.
The new Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, visited Slovakia on Sunday on his first trip abroad two days after he assumed office. Mr Kohout met for talks with his Slovak counterpart, Miroslav Lajčák to discuss the Czech presidency of the EU that the new Czech government has to complete. The ministers also said they would like to enhance the knowledge of the Czech and Slovak languages in their respective countries, particularly in the young generations. Czech and Slovak are similar Western Slavic languages and their knowledge was common in both parts of the Czechoslovak federation.
Slovakia has traditionally been the first destination Czech officials visit after taking office. Both President Klaus and the former PM, Mirek Topolánek, visited the country at the start of their terms.
The plan of Czech Army’s foreign missions for 2009 is ready, the new deputy PM and minister of defence, Martin Barták, told Czech TV on Sunday. The government could start debating it within a month’s time, and the lower house of the Czech Parliament could then discuss the plan in late June or early July. Mr Barták said that while the key mission of the Czech military in Afghanistan is currently spread in three regions, in the future it should be more focused and centred on the development of the Afghan society. The new defence minister also said that the army’s foreign mission should not be affected by budget cuts planned by the government for next year.
Czech Army currently deploys around 1,000 military staff in four foreign missions; most of them serve as part of NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan.
Ladislav Jakl, a secretary of the Czech President, Václav Klaus, told Czech TV on Sunday that the ratification of the Lisbon treaty by the Czech Republic will only be completed after it is signed by the president. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said that the president should sign the treaty but refused to give an opinion on whether the Czech head of state is obliged to do so. President’s secretary Jakl also said that there are already enough senators to petition the Constitutional Court with a further review of the treaty.
The Czech president is a staunch critic of the EU’s reform document; Social Democrat Senator Alena Gajdůšková told the news website tyden.cz that the president could be impeached if he refuses to sign the treaty that had been approved by both chambers of the Czech Parliament.
In related news, Czech President Václav Klaus received the International Prize of the German-based Friedrich August Hayek Foundation in Freiburg on Sunday in recognition of his efforts to promote the free market society. Former German President Rudolf Herzog noted at the ceremony that Mr Klaus had always honoured the freedom of the individual. For his part, the Czech president said that F. A. Hayek was one of his greatest teachers.
Eighteen people are currently being tested for the swine influenza virus in the Czech Republic, the Czech Health Ministry announced on Sunday. Eight people are awaiting test results in hospital while the health authorities have ruled out 54 suspected cases of the virus. Most of the patients are Czech tourists who have recently returned from Mexico and the United States.
The US Embassy in Prague will present nearly 400 English-language books to a research library in Ostrava next week. The gift will include some 150 classic works of American fiction by authors such as John Steinbeck, Jack London and F.S. Fitzgerald. Another 230 books are reference publications: travel guides, atlases and books on US history. The gift also features a collection of speeches by American presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Kenyan athlete Patrick Ivuti won the Prague International Marathon on Sunday. He made a time of 2:07:28, breaking the course record by more than a minute. The first woman to reach the finishing line was Russia’s Olga Glokova. Patrick Ivuti had a good start and was holding a front position throughout most of the marathon. In the second half of the race, he sped up and broke away, taking 16,000 euros in prize money and a bonus of another 10,000 euros for setting the new course record. The first Czech to finish the Prague International Marathon was Mulugeta Serbessa, a 38-year-old Ethiopian-born runner.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych, seeded fourth, defeated Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 in Sunday’s final of Munich's ATP claycourt tournament, securing the first title this year and fifth career ATP tour title. Berdych took the first set in only 44 minutes but then allowed the unseeded Russian to come back in the second. In the third set, Berdych was already 5-1 ahead but Youzhny rallied back to 5-5 and had the Czech on the ropes in the tie-breaker. Berdych however produced some faultless play under pressure and won 7-5, picking up the 71,700 euros winners cheque.
The start of the week will be partly cloudy, with occasional rain showers, mainly in the south. Highest day temperatures should not exceed 20 degrees Celsius.