Over 26,000 foreigners have gained Czech citizenship since 2001, according to government data released on Thursday. Two-fifths of those who have received Czech citizenship in the last seven years are from the neighbouring state of Slovakia, while Ukrainians make up the second biggest group. The number of new Czech citizens last year was the lowest since 2001.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek says the Czech Republic should have taken more than six medals at the Olympic games in Beijing. He said results could have been better at the Olympics, given how much money the Czech state puts into sport. Mr Topolánek also said the problem was that the country had too few top athletes. However, the prime minister praised veteran kayaker Štěpánka Hilgertová, who finished ninth after her boat capsized – he said she had behaved in an “unCzech” way when she risked all for gold and received no medal, rather than being satisfied with settling for silver.
Jan Koller, who holds the record for the most goals scored for the Czech Republic, will not appear for the national team again. The country’s new manager Petr Rada had said he hoped to persuade the 35-year-old to reconsider his decision to retire. However, Koller’s agent said the giant striker would not change his mind and would not be available for the Czech Republic’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins with a game against Northern Ireland in a fortnight’s time.
The average monthly salary in the Czech Republic grew by 8 percent year-on-year to CZK 23,182 (nearly USD 1,400) in the second quarter of this year. However, inflation is at around 7 percent, meaning the real increase in Czechs’ income is just 1.1 percent, the lowest rise in a decade. Prague is the region with the highest average monthly pay, while Karlovy Vary is the lowest.
A deal on the conditions under which US soldiers would operate at a radar base in the Czech Republic is very close and should be completed next month, the Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanová, said after talks with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek on Thursday. Mr Topolánek told reporters the status of forces agreement should then be discussed by the Czech Parliament in October. Czech legislators are set to vote on both it and the main treaty on the US radar by the end of this year. In July Prague and Washington signed the main treaty on the radar base, which will be part of an American anti-missile defence shield.
Prague’s Vietnamese community are planning to build a Buddhist temple within the next three years. The announcement was made after a Buddhist holy day, festival of Vu Lan. Prague’s Buddhists currently make use of a temporary shrine. The Czech Republic’s first Buddhist temple, in Varnsdorf in north Bohemia, was opened in January.
President Václav Klaus has granted a pardon to a man who was being investigated for trying to sell what he said was one of the president’s hip joints by internet auction. The accused, doctor of law Přemysl Donát, set a starting price of CZK 35,000 (just over USD 2,000) for a joint he said had been removed from the president’s body during a hip replacement operation in June. Police began a fraud investigation after the president’s office said the joint was not Mr Klaus’s. But the president has now pardoned the man, so as to bring what a spokesman called an “undignified game” to an end.
There will be no Czech club in this year’s Champions League, after Slavia Prague were knocked out in the last qualifying round by Fiorentina. Slavia drew away 0:0 with the Italian side on Wednesday, two weeks after losing 2:0 in Prague in the first leg. Sparta Prague also failed to make it into the lucrative competition after going out in the final qualifying round to the Greek club Panathinaikos.
The ruling Civic Democratic Party is putting pressure on rebel deputies after they torpedoed a bill on social benefits in Parliament. The party leadership on Tuesday called on regional leaders to bring the five rebels to heel, suggesting that they should think about expelling members who thwarted the party line. The rebel deputies, meanwhile, insist that they are fully entitled to vote according to their conscience and claim that dialogue would produce better results than attempts to intimidate them. So far none of the regions has indicated that it is considering acting on the advice of the party leadership to expel members for disobedience.
Minister Schwarzenberg is to travel to Paris on Thursday to discuss the conflict in the Caucuses with his counterparts Bernard Kouchner of France and Carl Bildt of Sweden. Monday’s EU summit, called by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is to review the conflict and its impact on the European Union's relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, while the Czech Republic will take over in January before handing over to Sweden in July. The Czech Republic will be represented at the summit by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.