Russia fears "breakup" of summit with EU as Czech premier quits

Russia fears "breakup" of summit with EU as Czech premier quits Moscow - Russia on Thursday expressed fear the Czech premier's resignation, midway through the country's EU presidency, would "break up" an EU-Russian summit set for May 21-22.

"We very much hope that the Czech domestic political situation does not effect the speed and intensity of the talks between Russian and the EU and does not breakup the full agenda set for the period of the Czech EU presidency - above all at the EU-Russia summit," deputy foreign minister Andrei Nesterenko told journalists.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek submitted his government's resignation to President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday, two days after his failing a vote of confidence in parliament.

The EU said Wednesday that Klaus, an outspoken critic of the 27-member bloc, would replace Topolanek at the summit in Russia's Far East region of Khabarvosk.

Ties between the EU and Moscow remain strained half a year since the Czech republic assumed the bloc's rotating presidency from France after the EU suspended relations with Russia over its brief war with Georgia in August.

In a barbed reference to the suspension, Nesterenko added Thursday that he hoped talks towards a new partnership agreement to govern relations between the two neighbors would "finally assume a normal and professional pace." (dpa)