Czech opera singer Eva Urbanová in the title role of Libuše by Bedřich Smetana opened the 50th year of Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival in Litomyšl, eastern Bohemia on Wednesday night. The performance took place in the courtyard of the Litomyšl chateau, where the composer Bedřich Smetana was born in 1824. The opera festival will continue until July 5.
Some Czech shops have been selling rice with illegal genetic modification, a spokesman for the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection authority told journalists on Thursday. The rice was packed by a Czech company but it came from an Italian producer that didn’t declare the foodstuff as genetically modified. The importer now has to withdraw nearly 38,000 packs of the GM rice from the Czech market.
Town Hall in Mělník, 30 km north of Prague, is interested in acquiring a monumental statue of Jan Palach which had earlier been rejected by the government. The statue was made by Paris-based Hungarian artist András Beck in 1969 after the student Jan Palach burnt himself to death in Prague to protest against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops. Jan Palach, a native of central Bohemia, went to secondary school in Mělník.
Health Minister Tomáš Julínek has decided to divide his health care reform package into several parts that will go to Parliament separately. The Czech Parliament will first vote on drafts on patient and emergency services that might come into force in January 2009. More controversial bills on health insurance and university hospitals, which have been heavily criticized by the opposition and some government MPs, will come later. Minister Julínek also said he wanted to hold further talks with the opposition and professional organisations over the controversial parts of the government’s health care reform.
The Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair will launch flights between Prague and Nottingham by the end of October, company representatives told journalist in Prague on Thursday. Ryanair hopes to annually transport 60,000 passengers between the two cities; tickets for the new flight should sell at 669 crowns, or just over 40 U.S. dollars, including taxes.
The Czech Army will begin testing Pandur armoured personnel carriers. Test of the Austrian made vehicles will start at an army base in Šternberk, Moravia, on Tuesday, and will take several weeks. The Defence Ministry will also start negotiating a new contract with the Austrian arms producer for the purchase of 107 Pandur APCs. In one of the biggest army deals in history, the Czech Army originally wanted to buy almost 200 of the armoured vehicles. The government abrogated the initial contract last year because the Austrian manufacturer did not manage to supply the APCs in time.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic would not
support further ratifications of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Schwarzenberg told
the Austrian daily Der Standard on Thursday that if the EU summit in
Brussels comes up with such a proposal, the Czech Republic will not support
it. The Czech foreign minister also said that it was very important for all
EU institutions to “resist the temptation” and not pressure countries
which have not yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Schwarzenberg is
attending an EU summit looking at ways out of the crisis caused by
Ireland’s rejection of the reform document.
The Czech Republic is one of five EU countries which have not yet began the Lisbon Treaty ratification process. The Constitutional Court is due to rule after the summer on whether the document is in line with the Czech constitution.
Eyebrows were raised in the Czech parliament Wednesday when Christian Democrat minister Cyril Svoboda announced that the original Czech national emblem or coat of arms had gone missing. After MPs began to search their offices, it emerged that the seal had actually disappeared at the Czech castle. The seal, which features two birds and two lions symbolising the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia was created in 1992 by the Czech heraldist Jiří Louda.
The premature exit of the Czech football team from Euro 2008 may prove to be costly for those that had staked that the team would do better. One such example is the television station Prima, which holds the television rights to the tournament. Following the Czech Republic’s exit from Euro 2008, advertising rates and also viewing numbers have plummeted. Sports bars and pubs expecting significant sales have also downsized their expectations. However, betting shops have revealed that the Czech loss reaped significant profits for them, with around 85% of Czechs betting on a victory against Turkey. The Czech Republic ultimately lost that game 3-2 and is now out of the championship.
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