Czech premier declares EU presidency to 'end' prematurely

Czech premier declares EU presidency to 'end' prematurely Prague - Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek declared Monday that the Czech Republic's presidency of the European Union would effectively end a month early when his caretaker government leaves office on May 8. The country officially holds the rotating presidency until the end of June, but has been thrown into chaos by the toppling of its own government in a no-confidence vote last month.

Topolanek said his country's stint in the six-month rotating presidency of the EU has been slipping into insignificance since the no confidence vote went against his government on March 24.

"The Czech presidency in a way ends with the termination of this government and its departure ... that erosion (in influence) is clearly evident," Topolanek told a news conference.

The outgoing premier said that the presidency's "influence and ability to push matters through is significantly lower" than before the no-confidence vote, which led to its resignation two days later.

Topolanek's three-party centre-right cabinet has since governed as a caretaker and is to be replaced by an interim technocrat government of statistician Jan Fischer on May 8, the day of the last EU summit in Prague to be chaired by Topolanek.

The Fischer-led government is to complete the country's term in the EU chair ending June 30 with a greater input from fierce EU critic, President Vaclav Klaus.(dpa)

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