The Czech Republic and the United States are set to sign a treaty on
scientific and industrial cooperation, along with an agreement on
positioning a U.S. radar base on Czech territory, the Czech news agency
ČTK reported on Thursday. The treaty, which is similar to U.S. agreements
signed with countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan,
should open up new opportunities for Czech scientists and companies. Both
agreements are expected to be signed in Prague next week by U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
In related news, Social Democrat shadow foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Wednesday that the planned Czech –U.S. agreement on positioning a tracking radar base in the Czech Republic as part of the American anti-missile defence shield contradicted the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Zaorálek said the planned agreement went against the idea of joint European security policy as defined by the stalled EU reform document. If the Lisbon Treaty were in force today, member states would have to consult their bilateral security treaties with other EU countries.
A 16-year-old Czech girl, who is wanted in Austria for attempted murder, was arrested in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The girl is suspected of stabbing a 50-year-old Austrian man in the head, neck and chest. The man, allegedly a friend of the girl’s father, received hospital treatment and his life is apparently not in danger.
Reflecting on the possibility of new direct presidential elections, Prime
Minister Topolánek rejected on Thursday the possibility of incumbent
president Václav Klaus being re-elected for a third term. Mr Topolánek
said the Czech constitution did not allow anybody to run for a third term,
whatever the mode of the election.
Czech politicians have begun debating whether the next Czech president should be elected directly, instead of the current vote by both chambers of parliament. Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has been asked to draft a proposal to that effect.
The Czech crown hit a new record against the U.S. dollar on Thursday when it sold below 15 crowns per dollar for the fist time in history. On Thursday afternoon, the Czech currency was trading at 14.95 crowns for the dollar and at 23.76 crowns per euro. Analysts say the record high was caused by a combination of weakening stock markets, soaring oil prices and the weak U.S. dollar; experts also say Thursday’s increase of interest rates by the European Central Bank did not have any effect on the ever-more strengthening Czech crown.
A comprehensive anthology on the Prague Spring of 1968 was presented at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in Thursday. The two-volume anthology, with 2900 pages, was edited by Stefan Karner of the Boltzmann Institute in Graz, Austria. It contains articles, studies and documents on the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia. The international team of authors was the first to be granted access to the Soviet-era archives in Moscow.
A court in Prague rejected on Wednesday a petition by Qatari prince Hamid Bin Abdul Sani al-Thani to intervene in a high-profile “judical mafia” libel case. The prince wanted to become an enjoined party in a legal dispute between Supreme State Attorney Renáta Vesecká and her predecessor Marie Benešová. Ms Benšová said the supreme state attorney, along with a group of prosecutors and judges, were a “judicial mafia” because they intervened in the protracted alleged bribery case involving deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek. Last month, a court in Prague upheld her claims and ruled Ms Benešová did not have to apologize, pointing out that the “judicial mafia” also intervened in the case of the Qatari prince. In 2005, Mr Sani was accused in the Czech Republic of sexual abuse of minors but was later released and left the country for his homeland.
The chairman of the Czech Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetský told Czech TV on Thursday that the review of the Lisbon Treaty could be ready in September. The Czech Republic is one of seven countries that have not yet ratified the reform treaty; the Czech Senate referred the document to the Constitutional Court to decide whether it is in line in the Czech law. Mr Rychetský said the court has been examining the treaty for some six weeks and has already received opinions on the matter from the government, the parliament’s lower house as well as the president.
Czech defensive midfielder Radek Bejbl, who is 36, ended his career on Thursday. Mr Bejbl was a member of the Czech national team that won silver medals at the 1996 European championship in England. He also played in Slavia Prague before transferring to Spain’s Atlético Madrid, and later moved to Racing Lens and Rapid Wien. He played 58 matches for the Czech national team in which he scored 3 goals.
The Czech beer producer Budvar succeeded on Wednesday in registering its Budweiser Budvar trademark in Hong Kong, following an 11-year-long dispute with its American competitor Anheuser-Busch. The České Budějovice-based brewing company has also started exporting its lager to mainland China. Budvar is currently involved in trademark disputes with its U.S. rival in more than 40 countries around the world.
The head of the Czech Republic’s Prison Service Luděk Kula is facing eight years in jail for a failed tender for mobile phone jammers, the news website Novinky.cz reported on Thursday. The police have accused Mr Kula of breach of trust. In 2005 and 2006, the Prison Office spent almost 20 million crowns, or more than 1.3 million U.S. dollars, on mobile phone jammers for Czech penitentiaries. Some of the equipment was purchased without any public tenders and was later discovered to be faulty. Mr Kula said he would file a complaint against the accusation.
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