Vaclav Klaus sworn in for second term as Czech president
(dpa) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus seamlessly sailed to his second five-year term Friday as he was sworn into office at a joint session of the bicameral parliament held at a seat of Czech presidents, the majestic Prague Castle.
Klaus, who has opposed deeper European integration, is to hold office during the first half of 2009 when the Czech Republic is scheduled to preside over the European Union.
"It is necessary that the president, government and parliament ... pull together in foreign policy," the eurosceptic president said in his inauguration speech.
Klaus, who has not flown the EU flag at the castle after the country joined the bloc in 2004, told the ceremonial gathering that the Czech presidency should strive for an EU that is "a democratic organization of European states and their citizens rather than an organization of politicians and their bureaucrats."
The Czech presidency is to take place at a transitional time when the 27-member bloc should be undergoing institutional reforms stemming from the Lisbon Treaty, which has been criticized by Klaus.
Prague may also end up overlooking final negotiations on the EU's so-called green package aimed at curbing global warming, Czech officials have said.
Klaus, who doubts that humans have caused global warming, has criticized efforts to protect climate and likened them to Soviet-era policies of commanding the weather.
However, Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said shortly after Klaus' re-election that he does not expect the president - whose powers are limited - to cause a stir.
"I don't think that electing Klaus would signify problems," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
The 66-year-old president, who is a veteran of Czech post- communist politics, is a highly-divisive figure.
His opponents were interested in unseating him rather than in electing his unsuccessful challenger, Czech-US economist Jan Svejnar.
Klaus' protracted re-election in February was marked by allegations of foul play and tainted by mafia-style practices. Several lawmakers, who elect Czech presidents in a complicated process, then received bullets and gun powder in threatening mail.