Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dienstbier as minister wants scrapping of EU pact's Czech opt-out

ČTK |
27 January 2014

Prague, Jan 24 (CTK) - The first thing Jiri Dienstbier will push for in his capacity as new Czech human rights minister is to have the Czech opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights scrapped as it is unfounded and unfavourable for Czechs, he told CTK Saturday.
Dienstbier, Social Democrat (CSSD) senator, is a candidate for minister in the coalition cabinet to be appointed on January 29.
Apart from dealing with the human rights agenda, he is to head the Government Legislative Council.
The opt-out from the EU Charter, which the then Czech president Vaclav Klaus pushed through as a condition for him to nod to the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, is unfounded and it reduces the protection of the social and human rights of Czechs, Dienstbier said.
Last year, the European Parliament recommended that EU member states should not debate the Czech opt-out. The debate on it has not started in Czech parliament either.
The CSSD is known for criticising the Czech opt-out while in opposition at the time.
Dienstbier said his other goals as minister are more powers for the ombudsman, a certain chance of child adoption by homosexual couples and a law guaranteeing children's admission to a kindergarten.
He said he wants to focus on the problem of social exclusion. He wants to supervise the coordination and effectiveness of measures taken in this area.
Dienstbier considers the problem of spreading ghettos, or socially excluded localities, the most urgent problem.
"It cannot be approached in a populist way, pretending that everything can be solved in a few months or years," he said, adding that he wants to coordinate the measures individual ministries will take in the areas of education and the fight against usury and debts.
Dienstbier will push for the passage of a bill on social housing, which he will discuss with mayors.
"Social housing can be secured by no one else but towns. Naturally, they are opposed to it. They are unable to secure it unless they receive money for building and investing in social housing," Dienstbier told CTK.
He admitted that some of his proposals, such as those related to homosexuals or equal opportunities for men and women, may meet with opposition in the new cabinet of the CSSD, the centrist ANO movement and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL).
On the other hand, Dienstbier has agreed on other proposals even with conservative politicians, he said.
For example, the coalition agreement embeds the cabinet's support to kindergartens so that both parents can go to work.
"In some countries they have a law guaranteeing the admission to a kindergarten to all kids. I'd like to discuss the passing of a similar piece of legislation [by Czech parliament]. Consensus may be reached on it," Dienstbier said.
He said he also wants to open a debate on the introduction of quotas for women in the electoral legislation.
"Even conservative parties could hardly advocate the fact that women have worse preconditions or education for holding public posts...If equality exists formally but not in reality, the causes must be dealt with and a remedy must be sought," he said.
In the Czech Chamber of Deputies, one-fifth of members are women. Only three women are to join the new 17-seat cabinet of CSSD leader Bohuslav Sobotka.
Dienstbier said the promotion of a chance of officially registered same-sex couple members to adopt the partner's child will be far from easy in the new government.
He said a number of Czech children live together with two mothers or two fathers, who "face quite complex problems" in a situation where one of them has no rights in relation to the partner's child though he/she helps bring it up.
Dienstbier also wants to initiate a bill enabling the ombudsman, public protector of citizens' rights, to ask the Constitutional Court (US) to scrap a law. At present, this can be done only by the president and at least 41 deputies or 17 senators, and also by the government and self-governing regions on certain conditions.

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