Continued from page 1

Alexandr Vondra, now the deputy prime minister, noted that the Czech government is committed to the 27-nation union the Czech Republic joined four years ago, despite the feelings of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who refuses to fly the EU flag over the presidential Prague Castle.

Under its parliamentary system, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is head of government, while Mr. Klaus holds the more ceremonial position as head of state. The prime minister will represent the nation when the Czech Republic assumes the rotating EU presidency in January.

“European policy is the domain of the government,” Mr. Vondra said in response to criticism from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the EU presidency. “There was, there is and there will be the European flag” flying over parliament and the government offices, he added. Mr. Vondra was ambassador in Washington from March 1997 to July 2001.

Mr. Sarkozy on Tuesday said he is “sometimes a little astonished” by Mr. Klaus’ criticism of the EU.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.