A recent poll conducted by the STEM polling agency showed that 63 percent of Czechs supported the idea of direct presidential election in the country, while only 22 percent were against. More than half (59 percent) of the respondents did not agree with the restriction of the power of the president.
A majority of 73 percent believed that forwarding of presidential candidates should not be limited to political parties only. The elected president also should not rely upon the parties, as 71 percent insisted. The two dominating parties, the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, proposed a draft to the Constitution limiting the power of the president.
The Chamber of Deputies passed the law in January. The direct election of the president was also supported Christian Democrats, Freedom Union and Democratic Union parties.
The necessity of accession
The Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies Václav Klaus said on Saturday that a referendum on Czech EU accession should be held as soon as possible. He added that upon joining the Union, the Czech Republic would give up part of its sovereignty voluntarily, so the referendum would be "absolutely necessary."
According to Klaus, the referendum should be held in the beginning of 2001, even before talks between the EU and the Czech Republic are be completed. The Czech Republic, as always, lags behind its neighbours in holding such a referendum. Optimism alone could be misleading. It is better to understand the desire of the people rather than just part of it.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted in May by IVVM showed that 49 percent of Czechs supported the entry to the EU, lower than Poland (50 percent) and Hungary (68 percent). People with a negative attitude to EU entry made up 26 percent of the respondents, similar to Poland. The rest of the population was yet undecided.
After a meeting of the EU-Czech Republic Association Committee, the European negotiator for the Czech Republic Michael Leigh said that the EC was disappointed by the delay of the judicial reform in the Czech Republic. A Czech Foreign Ministry official said that the country would be able to pass all judiciary laws before 2002, but the reform of the judicial system would not be completed until 2005.
The comment was related to the failure of the lower house of Parliament to pass recent amendments to the Criminal Code and the Constitution. Leigh hoped that January 2005 would be the latest deadline for the completion of the reform, with the basic EU requirements being done more promptly by the Czech judicial system.
Citizens of Czech Republic and Costa Rica will soon be able to travel to both countries without visas and to stay in the destination country for up to 90 days. The application of the agreement made by Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmoníček and Costa Rican charge d’affaires in Prague Johnny Jose Sandi will take effect in a few months.
Havel taken ill - again
President Václav Havel has been successfully recovering from an abdominal hernia operation. The president, however, remained at the anaestology-resuscitation ward to prevent complications. The 63-year old President had a breathing problem on Tuesday, which fortunately was remedied by the doctors.
Havel was admitted to the Central Military Hospital in Prague on Sunday. His hernia problems are the latest in a history of health problems. Havel had an emergency operation in Innsbruck, Austria two years back for a gastrointestinal ailment, followed by another operation in the same year, in which the doctors removed part of his colon.
Georgia on my mind
The Czech Republic officially opened its Embassy in Georgia. On Thursday the new Czech Ambassador Jiří Nekvasil handed over his credentials to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze in the capital Tbilisi.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Georgia and the Czech Republic on 1 January 1993, the post of ambassador was relegated to the ambassadors to Russia, which also covered the whole Transcaucasian region.
The Czech Republic had postponed its diplomatic presence in the country for economic reasons. The new embassy will now cover Armenia as well.
Markus Bonorianto, 10 June 2000
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