News

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Czech PM wants Kosovo recognition on Wednesday

The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, says he will push for the government to recognise the independence of Kosovo this Wednesday, before he leaves for a NATO summit in Bucharest. In an interview for Hospodařské noviny, he said there was no alternative to recognising the breakaway province now, adding that it would be better to do so before elections in Serbia. However, Mr Topolánek was critical of Kosovo, describing it as a boil on the western Balkans for which there was no good solution. He said the Serbs were traditional partners of the Czechs, and if the Czech Republic did not grant recognition of Kosovo’s independence Czech soldiers there would in effect become an occupying army. He said the only reason Prague would recognise Kosovo was so as not to tarnish relations with partners in the European Union and NATO.

Meanwhile, the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said he would not insist on a decision being reached on the matter this Wednesday. He said he would like to give ministers time to consider such an important matter.

No need for PM to attend Beijing Olympics, says foreign minister

Speaking on a TV debate programme, Mr Schwarzenberg also said there was no need for Mr Topolánek to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August. On Thursday the prime minister said he would ask the cabinet to vote on the issue; following a Chinese crackdown on protesters in Tibet, the question of whether leaders should attend the ceremony has been debated internationally. The Czech minister of education and sport, Ondřej Liška, has said he will not go to Beijing. The Czech president, Václav Klaus, will miss the opening ceremony for health reasons.

Czech president discusses situation in Russia with opposition figure Kasparov

President Klaus had a meeting with the Russian chess champion and opposition figure Garry Kasparov in Hluboká nad Vltavou, south Bohemia on Sunday. Speaking afterwards, Mr Kasparov said the Czech president had expressed interest in the situation in Russia, adding that the two men had discussed United States plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia; Russia is steadfastly opposed to the idea.

Slovaks against US radar in Czech Republic, says Fico

Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, said on a visit to Prague on Sunday that his country was also against the planned US radar. He said the project was causing a split in NATO. Mr Fico also said America’s anti missile defence shield was not sufficiently developed and that some of its elements were unreliable.

The Czech Parliament has yet to vote on whether to allow the US to build the base in Brdy, central Bohemia. Minister Schwarzenberg said on Sunday the only outstanding issue in talks with Washington was a Czech demand for a guarantee the US would clean up any potential environmental damage.

Constitutional Court head considered quitting

The chairman of the Czech Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský says he has considered quitting due to the threat of excessive politicisation of the court, which has failed to agree on several issues in recent months. Speaking on Czech Television, he said even thought the court itself was not involved in politics, it had been influenced by an increase in confrontation and unfriendliness between the country’s political parties.

Paris Hilton in Prague

Paris Hilton is in Prague, where her boyfriend Benji Madden is playing a concert with his rock band Good Charlotte on Sunday night. Journalists and photographers had been expecting the American celebrity to arrive by plane, and were surprised when she arrived on the band’s tour bus. Hilton later fell and hurt her chin after being pursued by the press in the city centre.

Weather

It should remain quite sunny over the next couple of days, though we can expect some rain in places. Temperatures will reach up to 17 degrees Celsius.