Brazilian minister of (counter) culture: Gilberto Gil
Australia/Tas: Greens call for probe into proposed mill
Australia/Victoria: ALP rages at Greens' Nazi 'joke'
New Zealand: Bradford bill could provoke calls for review of MMP voting system
Czech Republic: Zahradil rains on the EU parade
Last week saw the consequences of Euroskeptic Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Jan Zahradil’s first actions as the Czech Republic’s representative in negotiations over the European Constitution. For some Europhiles, they made for a miserable rain that put a damper on the European Union’s 50th birthday party on March 25. After months of discussion, the Berlin Declaration, a document supposed to reiterate the European Union’s ideals and aims and set the bloc’s future path, was released with no explicit reference to the European Constitution. It merely concluded that Europe is “united in the goal of achieving a renewed common foundation for the EU before the European Parliament elections in 2009.” Zahradil told CBW he and a few other negotiators were responsible for the exclusion of all references to the renewal of negotiations for the constitution. [..] Topolánek originally wished to nominate Zahradil as minister of foreign affairs, but Zahradil declined the position. He suggested Alexandr Vondra, the current deputy prime minister for European affairs, for the position, but Topolánek instead named Green Party (SZ) nominee Karel Schwarzenberg, a noted proponent of further European integration. Zahradil, who opposes the SZ’s pro-Europe stance, made numerous statements to the press criticizing this nomination. He said it was a “game” of Bursík’s aimed at “aggravating the relationship between Topolánek and Klaus ... and causing a rift in the ODS.” He also claimed the “post-Havelian establishment” was setting up Schwarzenberg as a 2008 presidential candidate who will “appeal to the truth-and-love entourage.” Shortly after the new government took office, Zahradil was nominated as the Czech representative for the EU Constitution talks, against a backdrop of protests from the SZ. Zahradil would further isolate the country in the European community, and didn’t have the government’s support, according to the SZ. “The political views of MEP Zahradil can’t be considered the Czech Republic’s official position,” Bursík said in January in Brussels. “It’s indispensable that [his] mandate be from the entire government,” said Ondřej Liška, a SZ deputy and chairman of the parliamentary committee for European affairs. Both Zahradil and Topolánek responded that Zahradil was the prime minister’s representative, not that of the government. European integration isn’t the only issue Zahradil has fought the SZ on. In January, he said Czech conservatives would seek the post of chairman of the European Parliament Environment Committee as “a way to keep Mr. Bursík in check.” Highlighting his environmental studies degree, Zahradil said that though he feels Klaus overstates his opposition to environmental causes for publicity, he agrees with Klaus that environmental issues are often used for scoring political points.
Czech press survey
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek should find enough courage and simply sack deputy PM and Local Development Minister Jiri Cunek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL, chairman) from the cabinet, Viliam Buchert writes in the daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) today. [..] Cunek may rightfully think that he can behave as he likes without risking serious consequences. He knows that PM Topolanek will only sigh and confess what he would like Cunek to do and the Greens will demand another coalition meeting where nothing will be resolved. If Topolanek is hesitating, the Greens should say they would leave if Cunek stayed in the cabinet. "Nothing else will namely make the Christian Democrats think rationally," Weiss writes in conclusion. Weiss says elsewhere in LN that the Greens need not fear they would stir up the government collapse if they conditioned their staying in the government coalition by Cunek's departure. He added that Topolanek would not be willing to sacrifice the government. If he met Greens' demand and dismiss Cunek, the Christian Democrats would be naturally angry. However, would they without hesitation leave their offices at ministries over Cunek? Weiss asks. "The Greens have not much to lose," Weiss says.