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16. 5. 2008 10:15

May 16, 2008: Premier Mirek Topolánek Chairs Discussions at the Summit of the EU, Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek chairs one of the session of the Summit of the European Union, countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in Lima, attended by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. The main topics at the summit are the social and economic impact of poverty, inequality and exclusion.

Premier Mirek Topolánek has expressed concern over the views of the President of Venezuela, adding that he principally disagreed with him. “Latin America is still a region with the greatest rate of inequality in the world, 40 % of its inhabitants, i.e. some 200 million people, still living in poverty. Only a path of far-reaching structural liberalization reforms leads to growing education, job opportunities and elimination of poverty. I am convinced about that as the Premier of a country that has chosen this particular road after forty years of living in communist totalitarianism,“ Premier Mirek Topolánek was quoted as saying.

The Czech Premier ended his speech by quoting the words of the German philosopher Karl Popper, countryman of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of a country which is - for the Czech Premier - a model of social certainties and inclusion: “Governments should concentrate on reducing hardships rather than trying to achieve maximum good.“

Other speakers at the negotiating table discussed the issue of sustainable development. The summit’s working session was attended by Presidents Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Demetris Christofias of Cyprus, Malta´s Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Tonio Borg, President Janez Jansa of Slovenia, Francois Filion, French Premier, and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Representing Latin American countries were Winston Baldwin Spenser, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, representative of Grenada, Almaro Colom, President of Guatemala, Juan Guilliani, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic, Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Rodolfo Nin, Vice-president of Uruguay.

The Czech Republic has been cooperating with the countries of Latin America, for instance in the field of government scholarships, also granting its development aid to selected countries. The past few years have seen a major shift in the process of concluding agreements with the individual states in the region. These are primarily agreements lifting visa obligations to facilitate tourist exchanges and business contacts. Czech presidency of the European Commission will be a suitable opportunity for intensification of relations with Latin American states. In May 2009, the Czech Republic will be hosting a ministerial meeting of the EU and the Rio Group to be attended by more than 20 delegations.

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