Political System and Foreign Relations
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy, with separate legislative, executive and judicial powers. The parliament has two chambers (Chamber of Deputies and the Senate). The president is elected by the Parliament for a five-year term by a popular vote. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President, based on parliamentary election results. As the Czech Republic is a parliamentary democracy, the bulk of political power lies with the Prime Minister.
The Chamber of Deputies has 200 members elected for a four-year term through a proportional representation election system. The Senate is the Upper Chamber of the Parliament and comprises of 81 senators, each elected for a six-year term. The election system provides for one-third of the senators to be re-elected every two years. The first Senate elections took place in November 1996. In the first election, one-third of the senators were elected for six-year terms, the second third for four-year terms, and the last third for two-year terms.
As of 1 January 2001, the Czech Republic assumed the rights and obligations previously binding on the federal Czechoslovakia under international treaties. The Czech Republic maintains diplomatic relations with most of the countries that maintained diplomatic relations with the former Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Republic is member of a number of international organizations, such as the United Nations (including most of this organization´s special agencies) and the World Trade Organization (the successor of GATT). With IMF membership now renewed, the country has also become a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The Czech Republic is also a member of the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA). On 12 March 1999, the Czech Republic became a full member of NATO.
The EU Accession Process
The Czech Republic applied for EU membership in 1996 and started negotiations in March 1999. Negotiations have been structured according to "chapters" representing different areas of the EU law. All the chapters have been completed by December 2002. The accession process came finally to an end on the meeting of the European Council held in Copenhagen on 12–13 December 2002 where the chief representatives of the Member States officially concluded the initial negotiations with the 10 candidate countries and signed the Treaty on Accession.
In the process of the accession negotiations, the Czech Republic asked for transitional periods in several areas to be able to successfully meet to the implicit obligations of the EU membership. These transitional periods became a part of the Treaty on Accession. In the area of public aid, the Czech Republic requested no transitional periods, with the exception of the obligation to complete the overall restructuring process of the steel sector by the end of 2006.
On 16 April 2003, the Treaty on Accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia was signed in Athens. On 1 May 2004, the Czech Republic became a full member of the European Union.
Czech and Foreign Missions
- Czech Missions Abroad– offers the list of the Czech ambassies, consulates, honorary consulates and Czech centres abroad
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Czech Republic
- Foreign Missions to the Czech Republic– offers the list of foreign ambassies and consulates in the Czech Republic
Czech Foreign Policy
- Conceptual basis of Foreign policy of the Czech Republic - a document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs