PMs Paroubek, Blair meet in Prague ahead of Friday's socialist leaders meeting

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, photo: CTK

The leaders of European socialist parties met in Prague on Friday for a conference hosted by the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek to discuss, among other issues, the EU's Spring Summit and a stronger European Energy policy. Before the event, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek held separate meetings with some of the participants, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek,  photo: CTK
After their meeting at the Prime Minister's residence in Prague, the two prime ministers held a joint news conference. Pavla Horakova has just returned from it and joins me in the studio.

Well, Chris, the brief meeting focused mainly on EU issues, as Prime Minister Paroubek told reporters, adding that he had had an opportunity to cooperate closely with Tony Blair in recent months on a number of EU matters. Mr Blair responded to that saying the relationship between Britain and the Czech Republic is good and strong. This is what Mr Blair had to say:

"We have worked closely together in Europe. We are strong partners there but we are also strong partners in many aspects of NATO and foreign policy as well. I would like to say what a good, strong and reliable partner we have found this country and pay tribute to the leadership of the prime minister over this last period of time in which there have been difficult decisions to take."

Prime Ministers Jiri Paroubek and Tony Blair,  photo: CTK
It's only three months before the upcoming general election. Do you think this meeting will provide increased support for the Social Democrats?

Well, that's obviously hard to predict but it is definitely a big success for Prime Minister Paroubek and his Social Democrats to have Tony Blair in Prague so close to the elections. When asked about the similarities between the goals of their respective parties, Mr Blair had this to say:

Prime Ministers Jiri Paroubek and Tony Blair in front of the double-decker bus,  photo: CTK
"We both believe in strong economies combined with high levels of social justice. We both believe in a constructive and good relationship in the Transatlantic Alliance and we are strong partners and share the same values and ideas in the European Union. So I think the links between the two parties are clear."

I believe Tony Blair has brought a special gift for Prime Minister Paroubek. Is that correct?

Yes, indeed, Chris. It is a London double-decker bus. The Social Democrats have used buses in their previous campaigns to travel around the country and meet their voters. And the Czech Social Democrats are hoping the double-decker will bring them luck this year.