President Havel calls on people to think twice before casting ballot
In his traditional New Year's speech, president Vaclav Havel tackled several issues facing Czech society. He did not miss the chance to hit out at his political opponents and urged people to think twice before deciding who they would give their vote to in the upcoming elections. Alena Skodova has the details:
The president spoke at length on the Czech Republic's bid to enter the European Union as soon as possible, and voiced his full support for this idea. He expressed the hope that the accession agreement will be prepared - and maybe even signed - this year.
"For the first time in history we'll become a firm part of a solidary, democratic European alliance, which will - in some cases very quickly - be reflected in a number of practical advantages. Above all it will be very significant from the historical point of view."
The president also mentioned the terrorist attacks on the United States and reminded people that not only were they Czech citizens but also inhabitants of this planet, which is a common home for all.
But it seemed that those who the president had in mind when talking about the concentration of power, turned a deaf ear to him. The Social Democrat Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the head of the opposition Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus - two long-term rivals, now bound together by a power-sharing pact - took part in a live discussion on TV Nova an hour before Mr. Havel's address to the nation. The two men said that what they called 'political cowards' who want to acquire power without winning it in elections were threatening the country. In the evening, both only had words of criticism for President Havel's speech. Vaclav Klaus told TV Prima that when mentioning politicians, the president should not have used the word 'they' because he himself was part of the Czech political scene.