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Greenpeace reaches for the stars in Prague as Czech EU Presidency gets underway

Giant ‘pirate’ projection of EU flag coincides with European Commission visit

Press release - January 7, 2009
Greenpeace got off to a star-spangled start to the New Year by projecting a giant EU flag on the iconic Prague castle and Charles Bridge in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Czech President Václav Klaus, who is a well-known EU and climate-sceptic, had refused to fly the EU flag on the imposing building that overlooks the historic city – and which is also his official residence – to mark the beginning of the Czech Republic’s six-month period at the helm of Europe.

Greenpeace activists project the EU flag and series of slogans on the historical Charles bridge and Prague Castle as members of European Commission visit the Czech Republic. The slogans ‘pointed the way’ to the forthcoming international climate conference in Copenhagen later this year and read: “Copenhagen –333 days” and “Time to lead”. Activists want to challenge Czech politicians to make best use of the Czech EU presidency to improve the EU position in favour of a radical cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

Coinciding with the customary visit to the new rotating EU capital by the European Commission and its President José Manuel Barroso, Greenpeace activists also projected a series of slogans on the castle's towers. The slogans 'pointed the way' to the forthcoming international climate conference in Copenhagen later this year and read: "Copenhagen -333 days" and "Time to lead".

"The recent spat between Russia and Ukraine over gas supplies reinforces the need for the Czech EU Presidency to make climate protection, along with energy security, the highest priorities of its Presidency. Fighting climate change is the best way to reduce dependency on expensive fossil fuels, create millions of new jobs and ensure a stable and efficient economy to counter the economic recession," said Joris den Blanken, Greenpeace EU climate and energy policy director.

Greenpeace has drawn up a list of five key priorities against which it will judge the success or failure of the Czech EU Presidency in six months' time. These include funding for clean energy and forest protection in developing countries. And at a time when a number of European countries are concerned with unreliable gas supplies from Russia, Greenpeace also calls on the Czech EU Presidency to ensure the implementation of measures under the EU's recently adopted climate and energy package to help make the transition to a more efficient and less fossil fuel-dependent EU energy sector. The full list of demands is available on www.greenpeace.eu.

"The Czech Presidency must play its part to secure an ambitious successor to the Kyoto climate treaty in Copenhagen later this year. There is no more time for dilly-dallying: climate change is happening faster than predicted," said den Blanken.

A briefing on the Greenpeace demands for the Czech EU Presidency can be found on www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/czech-eu-presidency-briefing-07-01-09

Other contacts:

In Prague:
Joris den Blanken – Greenpeace EU climate & energy policy director:
+32 (0)476 96 13 75 (mobile),

In Brussels:
Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications manager:
+32 (0)2 2741 903, +32 (0)496 15 62 29 (mobile),

Photo and video footage:
Lenka Borakova – Greenpeace Czech Republic press officer:
+420 739 085 118 (mobile),