Press Advisories

29. 6. 200910:57

Important Events of the Czech Presidency

Beginning of the Czech Presidency

At midnight on 31 December 2008, Alexandr Vondra began the Czech presidency on the New Year's Eve with Anděl TV show by switching on the ceremonial light illuminating the "Time Machine" pendulum in Prague's Letná district.

6 January – Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Deputy Prime Minister Vondra presented in Prague the priorities and the working program of the Czech presidency. The key priorities were three "E's": Economy, Energy, and Europe in the World, while the presidency's motto was "Europe without Barriers". In defining the priorities and the program during the preceding two years, the Government relied on strategic EU documents and the conclusions of meetings of the EU Council and the Council of Europe.

Critical Moments of the Czech Presidency

At the beginning of January 2009, the Czech presidency had to take action with regard to two critical problems, namely gas supplies to the European Union and the situation in the Gaza Strip.

4 January – EU Presidency Declaration on the Developments in the Gaza Strip

Not even the undeniable right of a country to its own defense can sanction actions that principally result in suffering on the part of civilian population. We therefore demand that the distribution of humanitarian aid to the population of the Gaza Strip be allowed and that hostilities end in accordance with the outcome of the 30 December 2008 meeting of EU ministers of foreign affairs in Paris.

On Thursday 8 January, the European Union discussed setting up an international monitoring mission that would oversee the supplies of Russian gas from the Russian Federation to Europe via Ukraine. The priority was securing the immediate restoration of gas supplies to Europe.

11 January – Prime Minister and President of the EU Council Mirek Topolánek ended a breakthrough mission to the East. Signing an agreement with the Russian Federation and Ukraine brought an end to the Czech Republic's communication role at the helm of Europe during Operation Gas.

18 January – A summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Focusing on the situation in Gaza, the summit was attended by Czech Prime Minister and President of the EU Council Mirek Topolánek together with Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg. The event was convened by Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, and other participants included French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas, UN General Secretary Pan Kimun, and a number of prime ministers from European countries. The aim was to adopt a strategy securing lasting truce in Gaza and facilitating supply of humanitarian aid.

26 January – Czech Prime Minister and President of the EU Council Mirek Topolánek held bilateral talks in Budapest with representatives of Bulgaria, Georgia, and Azerbaijan regarding the prospects of strengthening the energy security of the European Union.

Other Activities of the Czech Presidency

1 March – Informal EU Summit. The summit was preceded by a meeting of the Wisegrad Four countries, which was subsequently enlarged by the addition of three Baltic republics and the two youngest EU Member States – Romania and Bulgaria. Comprising nine countries from the central and eastern European region, the summit was attended by President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso. Talks focused on exchanging opinions and experiences with regard to dealing with the impacts of the financial crisis.

Following the summit, Czech Prime Minister and President of the EU Council Mirek Topolánek said: "It was necessary to find a common ground and to define a joint course of action." He added that the jointly agreed rules needed to be respected. Topolánek concluded: "We do not disregard solidarity, but we must raise the issue of national responsibility."

2 March – Held in Prague, the "EU Enlargement: Five Years After" conference was organized by the Czech presidency of the EU Council in cooperation with the European Commission on the occasion of the historically biggest enlargement of the European Union. The objective was to assess the impacts of the enlargement completed in 2004 on the socio-economic development in both old and new EU Member States.

19-20 March – Spring European Council Assembly. The main agenda was the economic situation, energy, climate changes, and eastern partnerships. In addition to financial and economic issues, the heads of state of the attending EU's 27 Member States debated the EU strategy for economic growth and employment. The Czech presidency guided the summit to an agreement on anti-crisis measures.

2 AprilLondon G20. The G20 group of countries with the largest economies in the world met at a summit in London to seek solutions to the worldwide economic crisis. The Member States and the European Parliament under the leadership of the Czech presidency signed an agreement based on which the Community would contribute five billion euros to the execution of the European Economic Recovery Plan.

5 April, PragueEU-USA Summit. The Prague summit provided an opportunity to make the first political contacts between the representatives of the EU Member States and the new US president. Both sides exchanged opinions on current and strategic topics.

28 April – President of the EU Council Mirek Topolánek accepted an application for EU membership from Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha.

18-19 JuneEuropean Council. The European Council assembly approved under the leadership of the Czech presidency the guarantees promised to Ireland as a condition for calling a new referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. In addition, an agreement was reached as to the person who is to preside over the next European Commission, conclusions regarding climate changes were approved, and a political agreement was made regarding the new framework of European financial supervision.

"The Czech presidency came to this summit to support the stability of the European Union, and I am glad that in this regard we have succeeded in three key areas: institutional, financial, and economic issues and issues relating to the protection of the climate," said Jan Fischer.