In related news, the Czech Ambassador to Moscow Miroslav Kostelka has taken issue with a statement which Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek made in an interview he gave a Moscow radio station while in Russia. In the interview, Mr Paroubek maintained that ties between Russia and the Czech Republic had worsened significantly over the last three years, when the Czech Republic was led by the former centre-right government. The Czech ambassador said he disagreed with the statement, suggesting that although there had been some wrinkles at the political level, ties between the two countries overall remained very good.
On Monday, the Civic Democrats announced that they had formed a new ‘anti-federalist’ European Parliament bloc with the British Conservatives and Poland’s Law and Justice Party. Fans of the new European Conservatives and Reformists Group say that it will enhance democracy in Europe, while its detractors call it a motley mix of parties - some with views verging on the extreme. The Czech Civic Democrats are the third biggest party in the grouping, which consists of 55 MEPs from eight different European states. Adéla Kadlecová is the Civic Democrats’ foreign
There were sighs of relief on Friday after European Union leaders agreed legal guarantees to Ireland, seen as crucial if Irish ratification of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty is to succeed in a second referendum. But they haven’t counted on Czech President Václav Klaus, who’s so far refused to sign the document despite approval in both chambers of parliament and now says the Irish guarantees amount to new legal arrangements that require separate ratification in the Czech parliament.
In related news, the lower house of Parliament approved an association agreement between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The agreement is required for the future entry of the country into the European Union, and has to be ratified by all of the EU’s 27 member states. The EU has signed similar documents with Albania, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Serbia.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his Austrian counterpart Martin Spindelegger agreed in Vienna on Friday that the Czech Republic and Austria are ready to cooperate in diplomatic and consular services. In countries with only the Czech or Austrian embassy, citizens of the other country should be able to use the services of that embassy. The Czech and Austrian foreign ministers also talked about the Lisbon treaty, the Beneš decrees and the issue of the Temelín nuclear power plant. They agreed that such meetings should be held every six months; the next one is scheduled for September.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his Austrian counterpart Martin Spindelegger agreed in Vienna on Friday that the Czech Republic and Austria are ready to cooperate in diplomatic and consular services. In countries with only the Czech or Austrian embassy, citizens of the other country should be able to use the services of that embassy. The Czech and Austrian foreign ministers also talked about the Lisbon treaty, the Beneš decrees and the issue of the Temelín nuclear power plant. They agreed that such meeting should be held every six months; the next one is scheduled for September.
The Czech EU presidency on Monday issued a statement calling elections in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia “illegitimate” and expressing full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. The EU does not accept the legality of the election, nor its result, and considers this development a setback in the search for a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia, the statement says. Russia recognized South Ossetia as an independent state after its five-day war with Georgia in August last year and has been trying to consolidate its hold on the region. Sunday’s election is reported to have been won by parties close to the pro-Moscow leader of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoyev.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has introduced an Internet registration system for visa applicants intended to ensure equal access and reduce the risk of corruption. The system was introduced in Vietnam after it emerged that Vietnamese applicants were paying local agencies high bribes to get on a waiting list for a visa application. The system will now gradually be extended to other countries, starting with China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
One of the last major meetings to take place under the Czech EU Presidency has come to a close – the EU-Russia summit in the eastern city of Khabarovsk, near the Chinese border. It was not, by all accounts, a great success, with no breakthrough on any of the issues that divide Russia and the EU. And it seems not even the presence of the Czech Republic’s Russophile president Václav Klaus in the driving seat had much effect.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’