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Europe

Czech Prime Minister Topolanek Tenders Resignation

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's government formally resigned in a move that may cripple Prague's ability to chair the European Union and threaten a treaty designed to reform the bloc.

Topolanek surrounded by reporters

Topolanek asked to remain the head of a caretaker government until a new premier is named

Topolanek submitted on Thursday, March 26, his Cabinet's resignation to President Vaclav Klaus, who now holds the key to future developments. The prime minister lost a no-confidence vote on Tuesday.

Klaus, an outspoken critic of the EU and its reform Lisbon Treaty, will decide who will be the next premier and said a decision should be reached soon. He could choose to re-appoint Topolanek, but has said that the new prime minister must be able to command a majority in parliament.

"I will not allow a non-solution of the problem, for example a temporary state of affairs until the end of our EU presidency, until an early election or even normal elections," Klaus said. The Czech Republic passes the EU presidency to Sweden at the end of June.

Klaus: Resignation will have no effect on EU

Hands reaching for a European flag

A reformed EU may be harder to reach after the Czech government's resignation

Topolanek has said his government's resignation should not impact on the EU, outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra warned Wednesday that the crisis "complicates" the process of ratifying the EU's reforming Lisbon treaty.

The Czech Republic is the only country where the treaty has not been approved by parliament, though it is also still to be formally ratified in Germany and Poland and faces a referendum in Ireland.

Topolanek, who has requested that his three-party, center-right government stay on as a caretaker until the next Cabinet is sworn in, has accused Klaus of playing a role in his government's fall.

"Perhaps nobody can question the role of ... Vaclav Klaus in this game," Topolanek told Czech public television on Wednesday.

The political crisis may also issue a deadly blow to Czech-US treaties that allow the United States to place a missile defense radar base on Czech soil. Klaus, who will have to appoint a new premier, said he would prefer "a quick solution" to the crisis given the current economic downturn and the country's international obligations.

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