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Czech interim gov't faces uneasy mission
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09:53, May 09, 2009

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by Xinhua writer Ding Yi

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Friday appointed an interim government to replace the outgoing cabinet of Mirek Topolanek.

The appointments came after Topolanek's government lost a non-confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament in March, at the halfway point of the country's EU rotating presidency.

Priorities of the interim cabinet will be to smoothly finish the presidency, to draft a state budget to tackle the financial crisis, and to keep a good balance between various political parties ahead of the early election in the fall, analysts said.

  ISSUE OF LISBON TREATY

Jan Fischer, who was appointed interim prime minister on April 9, was scheduled to visit Brussels on Tuesday for talks with top EU leaders to continue the work of Topolanek.

Analysts pointed out that the Lisbon Treaty, which seeks to simplify and speed up the decision-making process in the EU bloc, will be one of the top issues on Fischer's agenda.

The Lisbon Treaty, signed by EU leaders in December 2007 to replace the failed EU Constitutional Treaty, will also allow the EU to make decisions by majority rather than unanimous voting in many new areas. The measure cannot take effect until it has been approved by all 27 EU members.

The treaty was passed by the Czech Senate on Wednesday. However, the measure has yet to be signed by Klaus, who has been a sharp critic of the proposal.

Klaus said Wednesday that he would not sign the treaty in the foreseeable future and that he would wait to see if senators would challenge it again at the Constitutional Court. He added that he would not take a stand before the court's verdict.

Klaus also said he would wait for the results of the repeated referendum on the treaty in Ireland, probably in October.

Observers predicted that Klaus' role will grow in the Czech EU presidency as the euro-sceptical president, a key figure on the Czech political stage, soon will chair a series of EU summits.

Despite the obstacles, the treaty's final settlement in the Czech Republic is just an issue of time and patience, and the Fischer cabinet, for the country's reputation in the EU, will try its best for passage of the treaty, observers said.

  EASTERN PARTNERSHIP PLAN

Another top priority of the Czech EU presidency and the new interim government is the Eastern Partnership plan, which was launched between the EU and six former Soviet republics.

The launch, meant to stabilize the EU's eastern borders and enhance multilateral and bilateral cooperation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, was hailed by EU leaders.

However, the plan's "sphere of influence" has irked Russia, which regards it as a potential security threat.

The EU, especially the Czech presidency, needs to keep a good balance when carrying out the initiative with the partner countries, analysts said.

In addition, to draft a reasonable state budget for the year 2010 is also a crucial task for the interim government, which has to take continuous measures to deal with the economic downturn.

The government has decided to cut 10 percent of the administrative expenditure on the ministerial level and increase the pensions of seniors.

A POLITICALLY "UNAFFILIATED GOVERNMENT"

The interim cabinet, dubbed as one of "unaffiliated experts," consists of 17 members, including eight recommended by the opposition Social Democrats (CSSD), six by the senior ruling Civic Democrats (ODS), and two by the junior ruling Greens.

As the government was formed on the basis of an agreement between political parties, a prime minister would never be absolutely independent, Czech politicians said.

Czech media frankly pointed out that Fischer, an unaffiliated former Czech Statistical Office chairman, would have to skillfully maneuvre between the ODS and the CSSD, the two big parties on the Czech political stage, over both foreign and domestic policies.

"He is in a very difficult position," the Czech daily newspaper Lidove Noviny noted.

Fischer's failure to appoint three ministerial posts by himself last week showed that his cabinet will face big difficulties in the swirl of politics among the parties.

He finally withdrew his nominations and accepted those proposed by the political parties.

Some analysts believe that leading the country to early elections, rather than making ambitious political plans, is a more practical and easier choice for Fischer's new interim government.

Source: Xinhua



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