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Political crisis will not affect EU presidency, says Topolanek

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-26

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said before the European Parliament on Wednesday that the fall of his nation's government will "not impact" its turn in the EU presidency. His government was ousted on Tuesday in a no-confidence vote.

AFP - The fall of the Czech government will have "no impact" on the EU presidency which the country holds, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek assured the European Parliament Wednesday.
  
"We have a case where the (opposition) social-democrats are obstructing the Czech Republic. It's a problem seen many times in the course of this presidency," he told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
  
"But don't be concerned, the situation will have no impact on the presidency," he added.
  
Topolanek's fragile centre-right government was toppled by a vote of no confidence in the Czech parliament on Tuesday.
  
The country assumed the EU's rotating presidency for six months in January.
  
"What's sad is that the opposition social-democrats have tried to undermine the (Czech EU) presidency, but I hope that even so this presidency will be a success," he told the assembled members of the European Parliament.
  
"What we are trying to do is to animate the debate and arrive at compromises. I hope that when we come to the last European summit (in Brussels) we will be an example," he added.
  
Parliamentary president Hans-Gert Poettering echoed that the fall of the Czech government "shouldn't influence the work of the (EU) presidency".
  
Another problem for Europe is the fact that the Czech Republic has not yet ratified the bloc's reforming Lisbon Treaty, which must be passed by all 27 member states before it can come into effect.
  
"We should encourage the presidency to follow the process of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty," he said.
  
However German MEP Martin Schulz, head of the socialist group in parliament, accused Topolanek of playing internal politics while holding the EU chair.
  
"Being here this morning shows that you are a fighter but so far you haven't understood what the task of the presidency of the EU is," he charged.
  
"If you come here to conduct Czech internal politics you shouldn't be surprised if we talk about Czech internal politics."
  
Noting Topolanek's criticism of the Czech opposition, he added that the government fell because it lost support from Greens and Civic ODS (civic democrats) within "your own camp".
  
The official count from Tuesday's no-confidence vote in the Czech parliament, showed the motion just gained the 101 votes in the 200-seat lower chamber required to oust the government which has survived four previous no-confidence motions.
  
EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, also attending the parliamentary debate, made no direct comment on the Czech political crisis, contenting himself with praising the work of the rotating presidency.
  
On Tuesday Topolanek said he would offer his resignation upon his return from Strasbourg.
  
However the government could stay in place in a caretaker capacity until the end of its EU presidency term at the end of June.

Date created : 2009-03-25

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