The Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that the Czech Republic could still hold a referendum on the European constitution but not before next June. After a meeting of coalition party leaders on Saturday Mr Paroubek said a referendum could be held with parliamentary elections in June 2006. But he added that the most practical solution would be to stage a referendum in 18-20 months. The process of adopting the European constitution by all 25 EU member states has been stopped in its tracks by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands. EU leaders agreed at their summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to put the constitutional process on hold, but did not kill it off.
The Prime Minister also announced that he would present a new concept of an information campaign about the European constitution in two weeks' time. He said the campaign leading up to the referendum should not only focus on the constitution, but also on Czech membership in the EU in general. The main points of discussion on the EU should be the Schengen treaty, institution of the euro, using EU structural funds, the Czech presidency of the EU and the contribution of the EU to the Czech education system. According to Mr Paroubek, the EU could contribute to the campaign.
The chief of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has said his party will vote against a referendum bill that would allow the Czech public to vote on the EU constitution. The Civic Democrats say they see no reason in holding a referendum on the ratification of the European constitution. The other opposition party, the Communists, say the government must divide the money for the campaign leading up to the referendum among all the different opinions on the EU.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that after France and the Netherlands rejected the European constitution, holding a referendum in the Czech Republic is unnecessary. He added that any referendum would only by a public opinion poll and not a meaningful referendum under the Czech constitution. Mr Klaus also said he was not surprised by the failure of EU negotiations on the EU budget for the 2007 to 2013 period, but he did say he believed a compromise would be reached.
A twenty-nine-year old paraglider pilot sustained serious injuries on Sunday as she fell from a ten-metre height during a paragliding training lesson near the town of Karlovy Vary in West Bohemia. The woman was rushed to hospital and doctors say her injuries are serious but not life threatening.
The current sunny weather should continue in the next couple of days, with daytime temperatures rising to up to 30 degrees Celsius in Bohemia and 33 degrees in Moravia.
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