President Vaclav Klaus has praised the legacy of the first President of Czechoslovakia Tomas Garrigue Masaryk on the seventieth anniversary of his death. Speaking at a special commemorative event in Prague Castle on Thursday night, Mr Klaus said that President Masaryk's legacy in establishing the first Czechoslovak Republic was a "constant source of inspiration for Czech democracy." Besides President Klaus, the event was also attended by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and former president Vaclav Havel among other dignitaries. Tomas Garrigue Masaryk died on 14 September 1937 at eighty-seven years of age.
American Secretary of Defence Robert Gates is to visit the Czech Republic to meet with Czech politicians and discuss the possible establishment of a US radar base in the country, according to the Czech Press Agency (CTK). Citing what it calls "a reliable source", CTK says Mr Gates meetings should take place on 20 and 21 October. The US embassy in Prague has so far declined to comment on the report. A number of senior American political figures have already visited the Czech Republic to promote the proposed radar. Nevertheless, opinion polls suggest that a large majority of Czechs are against having the military facility in their country.
The Czech Finance Ministry has confirmed that Czech government debt rose by 53.6 billion CZK (2.7 billion US dollars) in the first six months of 2007 to 856.1 billion CZK (43.2 billion US dollars). According to the ministry, the accumulation of state budget deficits were primarily responsible for the debt. Government debt is currently financed by treasury bills, government bonds, direct loans or loans from the European Investment Bank.
Meanwhile, the mayors of municipalities in the west-Bohemian Brdy region,
which is the proposed site of the aforementioned US radar base, have
expressed their dissatisfaction with information presented to them after a
meeting on Friday with Ministry of Defence officials on the issue.
Most of the municipal representatives said in the wake of the meeting that they had not received any new information concerning the establishment of a US radar facility in the area. They cited the potential health hazards posed by the radar, the status of US military personnel on Czech territory, and the radar base's impact on tourism and real estate prices in the region as major areas of concern.
The Minister of Defence Vlasta Parkanova has promised more detailed studies of the proposed radar base's effect on the region.
Most of Central Europe's Social Democrat leaders have signed a joint statement calling for a moratorium on more ballistic missiles being located in the region. The statement was issued following a meeting in Prague attended by representatives from social democratic parties in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Germany. The statement also said that all EU and NATO countries should be involved in negotiations on the placement of a new US missile base and radar station in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile defence shield against so-called rogue states such as Iran. The statement also calls for greater consultation on the issue with Russia, which has been a fierce critic of the proposed military installations. Only the representative from the Hungarian social democrats did not sign the statement.
Two people have died after the ultra-light airplane they were flying in crashed into a field near the west Bohemian town of Varnsdorf. The plane's two passengers - a man and a woman aged between 60 and 70 years of age - were found dead at the scene. Police are currently investigating the causes of the crash.
US Democrat Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher said on Friday that a proposed US
missile defence system involving radar and missile bases in the Czech
Republic and Poland must be fully incorporated into NATO and it must
protect both Europe and the United States.
Ms Tauscher made her comments in Prague after heading a three-member Congressional delegation, which had talks with Czech politicians on the US plan to station a radar base in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland. Congressmen Jim Cooper (Democrats) and Michael Turner (Republicans) were the other two members of the delegation. Apart from Prague, the American politicians also visited Warsaw and Brussels.
Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar said he welcomed the fact that the US Congress preferred the missile defence shield to be connected with NATO. The American delegation said that the Democrats and the Republicans clearly agreed on the need for the anti-missile system.
Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip told journalists on Friday that his
party will not officially propose its own candidate for next year's
presidential elections, but that they favoured certain contenders whom they
would like to discuss with other political parties.
Mr Filip did not rule out any of the names discussed by the other parties such as the chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences Vaclav Paces, former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier, Senate deputy chairman Petr Pithart and economist Jan Svejnar. Nevertheless, the Communist leader did add that the fact Mr Svejnar did not live in the Czech Republic would put him at a this country."
Mr Filip said his party had a number of criteria for considering presidential candidates including their views on such topics as the future development of the EU and the government's recent economic reforms. He added that any potential candidate's attitude to a proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic and his or her support for a referendum on the issue would also be a major consideration. Vojtech Filip's party has consistently demanded that a public vote be held on the possible establishment of the US radar facility in the Czech Republic.
The Communist Party is currently in talks with the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Christian Democrats on the possibility of fielding a joint presidential candidate to challenge current incumbent Vaclav Klaus.
The country's national air carrier, Czech Airlines (CSA), has announced
that it is going to change its logo. The new logo will comprise the letters
CSA written in white in a red triangle. A spokesman for the company said
the airline's old logo was considered to be too dull and eastern European,
which could lead to negative perceptions of the standard of services
provided. The new logo will also include the words ""Czech
Airlines" to make it more understandable for foreign clients who now
make up 80 percent of CSA's passengers.
The change of logo is part of an overall re-branding process within CSA, which includes new designs for its staff uniforms and sales outlets.
A group of 53 ethnic Czechs who had been living in Kazakhstan were flown to Prague on Wednesday night to start a new life in the Czech Republic. This is the second of three groups of Kazakh Czechs to be repatriated, in a scheme being run by the Czech Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry plans to repatriate over 170 ethnic Czechs from Kazakhstan, as it says that the economic situation, as well as the ethnic group's safety in the region, has deteriorated over recent years. Over 50 million CZK (2.5 million USD) has been earmarked by the Interior Ministry for this project.