Two main parties open talks over Czech EU presidency
The two main political parties, the governing Civic Democrats and the opposition Social Democrats have begun talks over the impending Czech presidency of the European Union. The move is widely viewed as a temporary ceasefire between the two rivals. According to media reports, both parties have dispatched two emissaries who will be tasked with agreeing on a series of principles that the rival parties can agree upon - including approving the Lisbon Treaty - as the Czech Republic assumes the presidency of the EU on January 1. However, the move has been met with criticism from Pavel Bém, the mayor of Prague who is set to challenge the current head of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolánek for his leadership post later this year. Mr Bém described the talks as a kind of second “opposition agreement” referring to the notorious pact between the two major parties which enabled the minority Social Democrats to govern between 1998-2002 with the tacit backing of the then opposition Civic Democrats. However, this comparison has been dismissed by those involved in the talks.