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Czech Republic

Yearbook 2002

Czech Republic is a country located in Eastern Europe as defined by Abbreviationfinder. The conflict over the Temelin nuclear power plant near the border with Austria flared up again at the beginning of the year. Jrg Haider's FP party demanded that Austria veto Czech EU membership unless the Czech Republic closed the power plant. FP's coalition partner VP opposed the claim, despite the fact that FP collected 900,000 signatures. In a war of words between Prague and Vienna, Czech Prime Minister Miloš called Zeman Haider's party "profascist" and labeled himself "democratically immature".

2002 Czech Republic

Jrg Haider also brought to life an older conflict by demanding that the Czech Republic demolish the so-called Benešec Decree, which was the basis for about 2.5 million Sudetis being expelled from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. German politicians supported the claim, but the Czech Parliament voted unanimously to raise the issue. Relations with Germany were strained and Chancellor Gerhard Schrder postponed a planned visit to Prague. Instead, German President Johannes Rau came to the Czech Republic for a "reconciliation meeting" with his Czech colleague Vclav Havel.

The issue of Sudanese aroused nationalist sentiments before the June elections to the House of Parliament, the People's Assembly. EU skeptic right-wing leader Vclav Klaus argued that the Czech Republic cannot enter the EU unless it is given clear guarantees that the Beneš decree is not being moved. However, the ruling Social Democrats, CSSD, in the election could benefit from the relatively good economic growth experienced by the Czech Republic. The CSSD remained the largest party with 30% of the vote, followed by the support party, the Klaus-led ODS, of just over 24%. The Communists got just over 18%, while the alliance between the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union got just over 14%.

The Social Democrats could not imagine continued cooperation with the ODS, but negotiated a coalition government involving the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union. New Prime Minister became S leader Vladimr Špidla, who promised strengthened welfare system and Czech entry into the EU. However, the government gained a fragile majority in the popular assembly. The opposition forced a vote of confidence in the large budget deficit, but the government won by 101 against 98 votes.

Heavy rains over Central Europe in late summer caused severe flooding in the Czech Republic. Seventeen people were killed and about 200,000 had to be evacuated. The river Vltava flowing through Prague was higher than in two centuries. The government proposed tax increases to finance the build-up after the floods. One of the members of the Freedom Union voted against the proposal, prompting Prime Minister Spidla to dismiss the Union's three ministers from the government.

The NATO country Czech Republic hosted the summit of the military alliance in November, when seven new states were invited as members from 2004. The exclusion of Belarus's president from the NATO meeting led to very strained relations between the Czech Republic and Belarus.

At the EU summit in Copenhagen in December, the Czech Republic and nine other countries received clearance for membership of the Union from 2004. However, the country was urged by the EU to make greater efforts against the discrimination against Roma. The Czech Republic will hold a referendum on EU membership in June 2003.

In the spring, the Government decided that the Air Force should be equipped with 24 JAS 39 Gripen replacements for outdated Soviet-built fighter planes. However, after the severe floods of the summer, it was declared that the costs of the arms deal must be reduced, and the decision was therefore canceled.

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