Environment Minister Martin Bursík has confirmed his decision to keep the most valuable parts of the Šumava National Park untouched. The decision includes a ban on logging in forests that were hit by a devastating windstorm last year. Several local municipalities have protested against the decision, arguing that leaving fallen trees untouched may lead to the spread of bark-beetle. Šumava National Park is the largest national park in the Czech Republic stretching along the German and Austrian border and covering 39,000 hectares of land.
April 8 is International Roma Day and several events are being held across the Czech Republic to mark the occasion. One of the biggest events is an exhibition of 30 racially-motivated murders since 1989, which is taking place at Prague’s Náměstí Míru. International Roma Day was first marked in 1971 and was introduced in the Czech Republic in 1990.
The opposition Social Democrats would win general elections if they were held in March with 36.9 percent of votes, followed by the Civic Democratic Party with 29.8 percent, according to a poll conducted by the Median agency. The gap between the two strongest parties has widened by 3 percent since February. The Communists would be elected by 13.2 percent of votes. The five-percent threshold to enter the lower house would also be crossed by the Greens and the Christian Democrats, with eight and six percent respectively.
Czech international striker Jan Koller announced on Tuesday that he will retire from the Czech national football team after this year’s Euro championship. ”It’s a definitive decision and nothing can change it,” he said. The 35-year-old striker is the top all-time goal scorer for the Czech Republic. He plans to leave the national football team at the same time as its long-standing coach Karel Brückner, who has already said that he will quit his post after the European championships in Austria and Switzerland this summer.
Christian Democrats generally agree with the stationing of the US radar base in the country, but they will only adopt a final stand after they are informed about the Czech-US agreements concerning the radar, head of the Christian Democratic Party Pavel Severa announced on Tuesday. “The condition that the installation should be part of a NATO defence system was fulfilled,” Mr Severa said after talks with Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová and Czech ambassador to NATO Stefan Fuele. The Czech opposition as well as some member of the Green Party are against the plan.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer and the head of the Czech Statistical Office Jan Fischer agreed on Monday that their offices would cooperate to design and test a system enabling electronic voting by the end of next year. The 2014 general election should be the first in which Czechs could vote via the Internet. The plan still needs to be approved by Parliament.
Some 60 percent of Czechs disagree with a proposed amendment to the law that would ban physical punishment of children, according to a poll conducted by the Median agency. Seventy percent of respondents said they themselves had been punished in this manner as children. One fourth of parents say they smack their children from time to time. Only 31 percent of parents polled said they were against physical punishment and never used it. Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Džamila Stehlíková, who proposed the amendment, says it is necessary to hold a public debate on the issue. Most experts say there is no reason to introduce a ban on smacking, since there is a law that bans maltreatment of children.
Some 86 percent of Czechs older than 16 years had a mobile phone in 2007, a growth of 2.4 percentage points against the previous year, according to the Czech Statistical Office. There were 13 million active mobile phones in the country last year, which means there were around 126 phone numbers per 100 people. Data from EU’s statistical office Eurostat put the Czech Republic just below the top ten EU countries as regards the number of mobile phone users.
A proposed US radar base to be stationed on Czech soil could have up to 250 US military personnel stationed there at any one time. The figure was agreed upon by Czech and American delegates, negotiating the terms of the SOFA agreement which defines the status of US troops on Czech soil. In reality, a spokesperson for the Czech Foreign Ministry said, the number of troops to be stationed at the base during regular operation will be closer to 100. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek recently announced that the negotiations on the SOFA agreement should be completed by Friday. The next round of negotiations on SOFA will start in Prague on Wednesday.
Czech President Václav Klaus, who is on a three-day official visit to Egypt, has launched a Czech-Egyptian business forum in Alexandria. On Monday, Mr Klaus met his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak and opened an exhibition in Cairo dedicated to the 50 years of Czech archaeological research in Egypt. Czech archaeologists have recently celebrated an important discovery, revealing a fully-intact archaeological site in the pyramid fields of Abusir dating back 4,500 years.