In the News 6.4.09

Barack Obama in Prague grabbing all the media attention. And Michelle, of course, too.


NEW DEAL, OLD HABITS . It has not happened in the history of Czech politics very often that the ruling coalition and opposition had ever agreed on so many points as they did on Sunday night.

Well, they agreed one day but disagreed the next day. But that is nothing new under the Czech sun, though.

Now, Christian Democrats pulled out of the deal that was signed by the ruling coalition and opposition leaders on Sunday night, saying they want the outgoing government in power until the end of the Czech EU Presidency.

And because of them the Greens said it makes no sense to go for the deal without the Christian Democrats. 

And what was the Sunday deal about? A new prime minister, the date when the outgoing government will cease to exist and finally the snap election date.

Jan Fischer, head of the Czech Statistical Office, is the chosen one that should lead the country from May 9 until mid-October when the snap elections are expected to take place.

A former member of the Communist Party (1980- 1989), non-partisan Fischer said he is ready to take the post but he would like to get back to work as soon as a new cabinet takes over. And he has one more condition – everyone involved is happy about him being the new PM. With Czech politicians changing their minds so often, one never knows, though.

Also read:  Czech leader Miloš Zeman to support PM Andrej Babiš if he runs for president in 2023


VIDI VINI VICI. The long-awaited visit of US President Barack Obama to Prague is over now. But pictures of his big disarming smile are still circling the world.

Barack Obama took no small call on the world in his Prague Hradčanské Square speech – to disarm the world of nuclear weapons. But most of the spectators gave him a cheering applaud. If the whole world should respond to his call in a such a cheering way, Mr. Obama could experience a nuclear weapon free world.

Later at the EU – NATO summit he encouraged the EU to invite Turkey in their club, which would be a positive gesture towards the Muslim countries. That, of course, was not met with as much enthusiasm as his call for reducing the world’s nuclear arsenals. In fact, French president Nicolas Sarkozy could not help himself not to rebuke Obama for meddling with the EU matters.  

When meeting former Czech president Václav Havel, he was warned to be cautious about the great expectations people pin on him. Havel knew exactly what he was talking about. He himself was compared to a “Mesiah” many times in his life and may have dissapointed some by failing to rid the country of all the post-Velvet-Revolution ailments.


SHINING MICHELLE. The aura of Michelle Obama did not shine any less, though. She accompanied her husband to the Hradčanské Square stage, happily waved at the crowd, nonchalantly kissed Barack and off she was to meet Czech president’s wife Livia to see Prague castle and the Jewish Old Town.

Also read:  Last month, Czech consumer prices saw their biggest drop in over a decade

“Mrs. Obama is very nice and friendly,” Livia Klaus told journalists. “She has a sense of humor, which makes a visit of this kind a bit easier.”

There was only one moment when Michelle was caught in a sad state of mind – when walking down the streets of Jewish part of the Old Town and learning about the tragic fates of Jewish people.


PEACEFUL PROTESTS. It has become tradition that a visit of any one from the US administration revives a round of protests againt the US defense missile shield, which is to be installed in one of the Czech forests not far from Prague.

Any one who was smashing the windows of the Royal Bank of Scotland on the eve of the G20 summit in London should learn from Prague protesters how to run peaceful protests, though.

Not a single incident was reported and Czech police marked the protests as “peaceful and incident free”. And there were people lying down on the busy roads, like Vyšehradská, blocking the traffic…


THE OPPOSITE OF PEACEFUL PROTESTS. Around 500 far-right extremists gathered in the town of Přerov to stage a protest not much different from the one in Litvínov last fall. However, their concept of social disobedience derives primarily from violence.

Also read:  Czechs, other Europeans do not regret the fall of Communism, says new poll

Chanting “Stop the black terror” (whatever they meant by that) they threw maroons, cobblestones and just plain stones at police or any one who happened to be near. Luckily, their main target (local Roma people) was not around.


CRISIS IN UKRAINE. Of the European countries the economic crisis has hit Ukraine the hardest. Aktuálně.cz reporter went to Ukraine to find out that in some areas most of the productive age Ukrainians are gone to the Czech Republic to work.

He met a grandmother raising her granddaughter all alone. She told him how life has changed in the town of Ternopol since the country became independent. She also alleged that every family living in Ternopol has a relative working in the Czech Republic. Imagine.

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