A court in Dubrovnik, Croatia, has fined a team of Czech divers a reported 31,000 kuna (the equivalent of around 6,000 US dollars) for breaking scuba diving laws in the country, by exceeding a set descent limit. The divers were taking part in an expedition monitoring the Garibaldi, a World War I armoured cruiser, which sank off of the country’s coast in 1915 and was first re-discovered by the Czech researchers in April. According to sources, the head of the expedition Zdeněk Partyngl, was expelled from the country and the crew banned from further exploration. The court latest proceedings follow tragedy which struck the crew earlier in the week, when one of its members – a cameraman - died in ascent.
Prague airport authorities have said they plan to cut their workforce by around 10 percent, beginning in December, ahead of privatisation. The news was revealed on Thursday. A spokeswoman for Prague-Ruzyně International Airport said the planned job cuts would affect about 240 people. The airport’s director, Miroslav Dvořák, said the move could raise the value of the company in the eyes of potential investors. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has said that the airport, the busiest in the region, should not be sold for less than 100 billion crowns (around 5.5 billion US dollars). Local media has reported that the government is aiming to sell the facility to a consortium of financial and strategic investors.
The European Union will evaluate its previous lifting of sanctions against Cuba during the Czech EU presidency, Deputy Foreign Minister Helena Bambasová revealed on Friday after meeting Spain’s Secretary of State for the EU Diego Lopez Garrido. The EU lifted sanctions on Cuba back in June in order to try and improve dialogue with the country. The Czech Republic, known for its resolute criticism of Cuba’s regime, at first opposed the step, but consented on the grounds that the situation would be assessed annually. By comparison, Spain pushed strongly for the lifting of sanctions after Fidel Castro stepped down. Mrs Bambasová stressed that although Prague and Madrid had different attitudes towards Cuba in the long run, they shared the same goals for democracy to be established and human rights to be respected in Cuba.
Members of the local branch of the ruling Civic Democratic Party in Rakovník, near Prague, are planning to meet next week with Civic Democrat Vlastimil Tlustý, in order for the MP explain his role in a recent political scandal. They could also decide on the MP’s future within the party. Last week it came to light that Mr Tlustý cooperated with journalists in uncovering questionable practices by a fellow party member, but critics have called the move entrapment. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, as well as the broader party leadership, strongly criticised Mr Tlustý from the outset, calling on him to give up his mandate. So far, the MP, a long-time political rival of the prime minister’s, has made clear that he has no intention of giving up his post.
The World Stamp Exhibition Praga 2008, featuring the world-famous Blue Maritius as well as other rare stamps from over 60 countries, has gotten underway in the Czech capital. Visitors will be able to attend the exhibition, which has been insured at a value of almost 60 million US dollars, over the next three days. The last World Stamp Exhibition held in Prague was now 20 years ago. The very first was held in held in the Czech capital in 1962, followed by other major cities including London, Paris and Tokyo.
Czech scientists as well as foreign researchers say they will organise protests to be held outside Indian embassies to criticise a controversial court ruling in India this week. On Wednesday a court sentenced two Czech researchers caught for illegally collecting some 200 specimens of rare beetles and butterfly larvae in the country. One received a fine, the other a fine and three year jail sentence for the same crime. Both men have maintained their innocence throughout.The Czech Entomological Society’s Vladislav Malý told journalists on Thursday that the planned protests would be held next week at embassies in Prague, Vienna and Ottawa.
US presidential candidate Barack Obama has indicated that as president he would back the United States’ missile defence project in Europe; he discussed the issue earlier in the week in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of broadcaster Fox News. The official Democratic Party candidate called plans for the system “appropriate” but stressed he needed to be sure the system would work. Czech and US representatives in July signed the main treaty on a proposed radar base on Czech territory to complement interceptor rockets in Poland, as part of the US system. The shield aims to counter threats to the US by so-called rogue states. The Republican challenger, John McCain, is seen as a strong supporter of the missile defence programme.
A spokeswoman for the Czech criminal police has revealed that an international police team has successfully broke up a gang that had hit more than 80 ATM bank machines in several European countries, including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Cooperation on the project involved police from those countries as well as Germany.
The Czech government will make a decision on the Czech Republic’s position on the new EU anti-discrimination directive in the near future, ministers said at a meeting of the Chamber of Deputies Committee for European affairs on Friday. The Czech Republic is the last of 27 EU member states to not yet have passed an anti-discrimination law. Members of the government are not united on the new EU directive; while the Minister for Ethnic Minorities and Human Rights Džamila Stehlíková supports the directive, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry Petr Nečas considers it redundant. The new directive is designed to guarantee protection against discrimination in all EU countries in the areas of housing, education, social security and services, regardless of individuals’ faith, age, special needs or sexual orientation. The Czech Republic was expected to pass an anti-discrimination law by its entry to the EU in May 2004.
The president of the European Commission, Jose Barroso, has said the Czech
Republic should set a target date for adoption of the common European
currency. He made the comments in an interview for the Czech newspaper
Deník. The Czech government has refused to fix a date for adopting the
euro, saying it is first necessary to implement reforms and stabilise the
public finances. If Poland meets its freshly announced target of joining
the eurozone in 2011, all of the Czech Republic’s neighbours will be
using the currency in less than two and a half years’ time.
Meanwhile, Czech business leaders, concerned by the continuing strength of the Czech crown, have called on the government to speed up the euro adoption process. The crown has risen by nearly 20-percent year-on-year towards the euro, meaning smaller profits for companies who export to eurozone states.