Czech Press: “At a Dead End”

Monday, October 20th, 2003

The Czech on-line press has not paid too much attention to the recent Brussels EU summit. The exception is Hospodarske noviny, the country’s leading business newspaper. HN is no more impressed by the results out of Brussels than were the French or Dutch press; the headline reads International Conference Is As Yet at a Dead End. In fact, the article reminds us that things have bogged down this way despite four EU meetings intended to get things moving with the approval of the EU Constitution: There were the summits of heads of state/government in Rome and now in Brussels, yes, but each of those also had a meeting of EU foreign ministers attached to it, namely at Rome and Luxembourg. And so far – nothing.

As you would expect, a specifically-Czech tidbit is thrown into Hospodarske noviny’s reporting: Czech foreign minister Cyril Svoboda has been lobbying at these events to prevent the EU “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” envisaged in the draft Constitution, from actually having that title. According to Svoboda, much better would be something less grandiose, like “Foreign Policy Representative.” “Minister,” you see, implies a sovereign state – and we don’t want to give any support to the notion that this Constitution will in any way create a sovereign state. (Actually, within the Czech Republic it is primarily President Václav Klaus and his opposition ODS party who are sticklers on points such as this; Svoboda’s campaign reflects his government’s weak position in the Czech legislature, which forces that government to keep the ODS sweet by taking up its causes in this way at the EU level.)

The HN article speaks of a compromise “package” that EU President Silvio Berlusconi undertook at the Brussels summit to fashion, which would be examined by the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Rome on 28/29 November, to prepare it hopefully for acceptance at the end-of-presidency EU summit of 12/13 December. It also mentions the mid-November “mini-summit” that Berlusconi wanted to hold to help him along with this; but that last bit has probably by now been overtaken by events, given the reluctance to meet yet again on the part of EU government heads that emerged in the French and Dutch press.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Bison Beer Best

Saturday, September 27th, 2003

Today we’re again a bit on the parochial side. But not in the Dutch sense – rather, in the Czech sense, since I need to head to Prague again this evening for a few days. So naturally I’ve been heavily into the Czech press lately. What has been going on? On the one hand, the Czech socialist coalition government just (barely) survived a vote of confidence in Parliament, and the main governing party looks like it’s about to throw out a maverick within its ranks whose non-cooperation made the confidence vote so close. On the other hand, the results of the Czech Beer Competition for 2003 have just been announced. Which story would you rather hear more about?

I’m guessing the latter. Both Hospodarske noviny and Právo (registration required – in Czech!) have write-ups on the just-completed Czech Beer Competition, Právo being slightly more-informative. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Václav Sphinx

Monday, June 16th, 2003

Indulge me just a little, as I leave the Czech referendum story with a bit of tidying-up: you know, the results, the reaction. Once again, Mlada Fronta Dnes splashes an over-sized headline on its front page: “ANO EU: 77,33%.” (That’s 77,33% “Yes” on a turn-out of 55,21%, so once again anti-EU spoil-sports can point out that an actual majority of eligible voters did not approve EU accession.) To which the headline adds: “Spidla rejoices; Klaus stays silent.” (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

It’s Czech Referendum Day!

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Czech EU referendum is very, very near. Sure, we know that already, but even if we didn’t, we’d know something was up from today’s front page of the leading Czech daily, Mlada Fronta Dnes. Check it out for yourself (you can download the PDF here): the whole above-the-fold area is dominated by a huge “ANO” – which, it won’t surprise you to learn, means “Yes” in Czech. Directly underneath is the caption “Historical referendum: the accession of the Czech Republic into the EU is to be decided.” For those newspaper-buyers who, nonetheless, are not so much into reading text, up above there’s a whole gallery of famous Europeans. Take your pick (now, who wouldn’t want to join their company?): Günter Grass, Luis Figo (the football player for Real Madrid, but he’s Portuguese), Antonio Banderas, Margarethe II (present occupation: Queen of Denmark), and Ornella Mutti – from Italy; anybody ever heard of her? Wow: Guess who the MFDnes editors chose in the inside article (click on “15 tvárí Unii”) to represent Britain: Rowan Atkinson, a.k.a. Mr. Bean/Johnny English! Below, you can see for youself how serious premier Vladimir Spidla is about accession: he’s shown huffing and puffing (and wearing black business socks with his shorts and sneakers!) and racing EU ambassador Ramiro Cibrian in a “Eurorun.” (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Václav Klaus: Which Way Will He Vote?

Tuesday, June 10th, 2003

The countdown is on for the referendum in the Czech Republic on EU accession, to take place over next Friday and Saturday (13 and 14 June). As most of the other candidate countries have done, Czech authorities are also making use of the tactic of opening the voting centers over two days to encourage as large a turn-out as possible (although referenda in the Czech Republic do not have any legally-mandated level of participation, below which they become invalid). And the Prague authorities enjoy a further advantage: their referendum is towards the end in the series of candidate country referenda (only a couple of the Baltic countries remain), and the script has gone according to plan – all of the other countries voting before have voted “Yes” (if in some cases with distressingly-low levels of voter turn-out), so that puts further pressure on Czech voters not to show themselves to be the odd man out. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

UN General Assembly President Caught Up in Security Scandal

Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

The referendum dates for EU accession for Poland (7-9 June) and the Czech Republic (13-14 June) are drawing near, and will surely provide ample grist for the EuroSavant mill – soon, if not right now.

Right now, I’d like to discuss an interesting scandal raging in the Czech Republic. Interesting, because it reflects an ongoing problem for former Soviet block countries which have joined the NATO alliance, or which have been invited to or otherwise would like to, and also because it happens to implicate the current President of the United Nations General Assembly, the former Czech foreign minister Jan Kavan. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

GI’s in Czech

Tuesday, May 6th, 2003

US military bases in the Czech Republic! There is now talk of that, and Czech politicians are now arranging themselves on either side of that issue.

The talk up to now has been not about the Czech Republic but rather about Romania and Bulgaria, which SACEUR chief General James Jones recently described as “extremely good candidates” for US military bases. Indeed, the Sarafovo airbase in eastern Bulgaria proved extremely handy during the recent war in Iraq as a location to base US refueling aircraft. But now it seems the Czech Republic is also in play – even though no official request or inquiry has yet been forthcoming from the American side. (more…)

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)