Monday saw the beginning of the school year for about 1.3 million children attending elementary and secondary schools throughout the Czech Republic. The number of pupils has been gradually decreasing over the past years, but the trend is expected to change, with more children entering elementary schools in the coming years. In his speech marking the start of a new school year, Education Minister Ondřej Liška warned pupils against bullying and called for greater tolerance of foreign students.
Czech government on Monday launched a campaign worth 10 million crowns, with the official aim to increase people’s awareness of the government’s work. The opposition Social Democrats argue that the campaign, launched just a few weeks ahead of the Senate and regional elections, serves a self promotion of the government and abuses public finances. Advertisements published in Czech dailies draw people’s attention to the changes the cabinet has pushed through since it was established in 2007.
Thomas J. Baťa, former head of Czech shoe giant Baťa, has died in Toronto at the age of 93. Thomas J. Baťa was born on 17 September 1914 in the Moravian town of Zlín. He continued with the shoe-making tradition of his father Tomáš Baťa, who founded the famous company in Zlín in 1894. It gradually developed into one of the biggest footwear companies in the world. After the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia in 1948, Baťa’s companies were nationalised and Thomas J. Baťa fled to Canada. The company resumed its business activities in the Czech Republic after 1989.
The structure of foreign tourists visiting Prague has changed over the past four years. While in 2004, the Czech capital was mostly visited by British tourists, it is now becoming increasingly popular among Russians. The number of Russian tourists has gradually been increasing, and last year their number reached 200,000. The overall number of tourists coming to Prague has risen by more than 600,000 since 2004. This year’s tourist season, however, saw a significant drop in the number of visitors.
Prague has launched a new railway line connecting the city’s Hlavní nádraží or Main Station with the suburban rail services through a new tunnel under Vítkov Hill in the Prague district of Žižkov. The new connection, which has been under construction since 2004 and cost 9 billion crowns (around 530 million US dollars), was launched on Monday morning. Its main aim is to shorten travel times for people commuting to Prague and make people use trains in the city more frequently. Experts say it is the biggest railway project in the capital in the last 100 years.
Some 50 people gathered in the centre of Prague to protest against the
Russian intervention in Georgia. Other protests against Russian policy are
also being held elsewhere in Europe at the occasion of the EU summit in
Brussels on Russian-Georgian conflict.
Speaking ahead of the EU summit on Monday, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said the situation in Georgia was serious and the country needed an immediate economic aid. The Czech Prime Minister made the comment after meeting his Georgian counterpart Vladimir Gurgenidze.
Up to one third of the Czech population will consist of immigrants and their children in 2060, according to an unofficial study conducted by Prague’s University of Economics. The total number of inhabitants will grow to 13 million from the current 10.4 million, the report says. By contrast, a Eurostat study released last week suggests that there will be a decline of some one million people by 2060 compared to current numbers. Experts from Prague’s University of Economics say that the Eurostat report doesn’t consider last year’s statistics.
The Czech Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the authorities of the village of Žďárek in northern Bohemia must return local forest to the heiress of the Walderode family. The formerly aristocratic family are leading an extensive legal battle to reclaim property nationalised under the post-war Beneš Decrees. Their property has been estimated as being worth 120 million crowns, and includes the state castle Hrubý Rohozec in the Turnov region. The court argued that the family did not act against Czechoslovakia’s interests. Monday’s ruling may be decisive in other restitution cases involving the Walderode family.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says the crisis in Georgia is Russia’s way of testing the EU. He made the comment at a joint news conference with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik on Monday. The two foreign ministers met shortly before a special meeting in Brussels called to deal with the Russian-Georgian conflict. Minister Schwarzenberg said the situation was really serious, adding that the EU had to adopt a clear and firm attitude to the crisis if it didn’t want to be disregarded as a political project. The Czech foreign minister reiterated his suggestion that the 2014 winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi could be boycotted.
The Czech Republic has recorded its lowest ever infant mortality rate last year, with 3.14 children in every 1000 dying before the age of one. Last year, hospitals registered nearly 115,000 births with only 360 infants dying before reaching the age of 12 months. Along with some Scandinavian countries, Spain and Slovenia, the Czech Republic has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Europe.