According to the German-based Bertelsmann Foundation, the Czech Republic tops the list of the world’s most successful transforming countries. The survey, which evaluates the quality of democracy, market economics and political management in 125 developing or transforming countries, placed the Czech Republic at the top of its list, right above Slovenia and Estonia. However, the accompanying report also strongly criticised the Czech political sphere, noting that the Czech public apparently feel a continued sense of alienation from their political elite.
Newly released figures from the Czech Statistical Office reveal that, 6.7 million tourists visited the Czech Republic last year. The numbers represent a 3.8 percent increase on the previous year’s figures. In line with previous trends, most tourists, around 4.5 million people, visited the Czech capital Prague. The figures also reveal that Germans, Brits, Italians and Americans are the most frequent visitors.
A report by the Czech Republic’s highest governmental oversight body has criticised the Czech Environment Ministry for failing to create a promised unified information system related to environmental matters in the country. According to the report, the Ministry also failed to undertake any audit of government money allocated to information and technology improvements in the last three years. Environment Minister Martin Bursík is said to be taking the report seriously.
The Civic Democrat senators group has announced that it intends to press charges against European Democrat senator Josef Novotný. The charges centre around public claims made by Mr Novotný that an as yet unnamed Civic Democrat senator offered him a two-million-crown bribe (around 116,000 USD) to vote for Václav Klaus in the recent presidential elections. The senator’s claims are already being investigated by the police and Josef Novotný has indicated that he will only reveal the name of the alleged person to the police for fear of being accused of slander.
A newly released poll by the Czech STEM agency suggests that of all the security-related public institutions, the army maintains the trust of 57% of Czechs. These numbers represent a marginal decline on previous figures. Other statistics released by STEM indicate that the police enjoy the support of around 50% of Czechs, while city police enjoy the support of only 43% of people. On the international front, 55% of Czechs trust NATO, 78% trust Interpol while 94% support the fire services.
Former adviser to Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek, Jiří Koskuba remains in a critical condition after being shot at his family home. Reports have emerged suggesting Mr Koskuba was shot by a gun belonging to him, although police are still investigating the exact nature of the incident. Mr Koskuba, a doctor by profession, worked in the health Ministry under the former Paroubek-led government.
The recent Czech presidential elections, in which Václav Klaus defeated economist Jan Švejnar were a battle against forces seeking to undermine the post-1989 development in the Czech Republic. So said the Czech president in an interview with the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Addressing the issue of a president to succeed him, Mr Klaus also suggested that he would be willing to continue the fight for what he deemed the correct political direction of the country even after his second term expires in 2013.
A team from the UN’s education, science and culture body is set to travel to Prague to assess if the Czech Republic is doing enough to protect its historical landmarks. UNESCO has already expressed concern over the number of skyscrapers being built in the Czech capital’s Pankrác region. In the worst case scenario, the Czech Republic could be struck of the UNESCO list of countries that are actively preserving protecting their architectural heritage.
Recriminations have continued between governing coalition parties the Civic Democrats, who backed Mr Klaus, and the Greens, who supported Mr Švejnar. Speaking on a live TV programme on Sunday, the Civic Democrats’ Pavel Bém reiterated criticism of the Greens’ late decision to support a public vote and their verbal attacks on the incumbent. The Green’s Kateřina Jacques countered that her party had changed its policy because of a meeting between the head of Mr Klaus’s office and a shady political fixer; she added that polls suggested most Czechs preferred a public vote.
Prague will wait for the European Union to agree a common standpoint on Kosovo’s declaration of independence and then proceed in accord with the EU’s position, a Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said. However, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said it would be very difficult for the bloc to agree on a joint stance, given that some states were opposed to Sunday’s historic decision by Kosovo’s parliament; Mr Vondra said it was more likely that individual EU states would adopt their own positions, with some of its biggest members likely to recognise Kosovo’s independence in the very near future.
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