Following the Civic Democrats’ defeat in Saturday’s Senate elections, President Václav Klaus has come out in criticism of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. Speaking on the television station Prima on Sunday, Mr Klaus, himself an honorary patron of the Civic Democrats, said that the party’s routing in Saturday’s elections was nothing other than a ‘referendum on Topolánek’. Mr Klaus refused to say whether he would prefer to see someone else at the head of the party, but did say that Mr Topolánek, in his opinion, needed to act less arrogantly. The Civic Democratic Party’s leadership is meeting on Sunday to discuss whether to hold an extraordinary congress, at which, among other things, a new leader could be elected.
The mosque in the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno has been vandalized with anti-Islamic slogans, the police said on Sunday. The police are investigating and have said that the perpetrator could face up to one year in prison. The Brno mosque is the oldest in the Czech Republic, and has been vandalized on several previous occasions.
Train services between Prague’s Masarykovo nádraží and Vysočany station were disrupted on Saturday, after important telecommunications cables between the two stations were stolen. A normal service was expected to resume on Sunday, a spokesperson said. The cable is thought to have been stolen to be sold as scrap metal. In September, trains into and out of Prague’s main station Hlavní nádraží were severely disrupted when thieves stole communications cable there twice in one week.
In an interview with the TV broadcaster Prima, President Václav Klaus said he thought the Czech Republic’s upcoming EU presidency would be insignificant, and that France, Germany, Italy and Britain were the only countries in Europe to really be able to change the EU. Mr Klaus said that no one ‘noticed’ when Slovenia presided over the EU earlier this year because, as a small country, it had no power to influence anything. He predicted that it would be this way when the Czechs take the reigns in January 2009. In the interview, Mr Klaus made reference to the Munich Agreement, which he said was signed by the most influential powers in Europe and which was practically ‘tantamount’ to the end of the first Czechoslovak Republic. For this reason, he argued, Czech politicians should not think that they can change anything during the country’s EU presidency.
The Czech Republic has slipped down the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings for 2009. Last year, the Czech Republic ranked 65th in the list of 181 countries, this year it has fallen to 75th place. Above the Czechs rank countries such as Slovakia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Georgia. The list was compiled based on research conducted between June 2007 and June 2008. The Czech Republic ranked particularly badly when it came to the ‘paying taxes’ section of the survey. The study found that filling out various taxation documents took businesses in the Czech Republic 930 hours a year.
Prague’s Ruzyně Airport resumed operations on Sunday after being closed for landings due to fog. An airport spokesperson said that landings resumed after 09:00 CET. The airport closed Saturday evening, with some arrivals postponed, some cancelled and others rerouted to Bratislava. The second-largest airport in central and eastern Europe expects some 13 million passengers this year, up from 12.4 million in 2007.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said that he would be willing to resign from his post as Civic Democrat leader on certain conditions. On Sunday evening, Mr Topolánek said that if the Civic Democrats could find someone who was able to implement the party’s centre-right programme, and who had mass support, he would be willing to stand down. The prime minister said he was sure the Civic Democrats could win the next election, but only if the party continued to implement its current programme. He rejected the opposition Social Democrats’ calls for his whole cabinet to resign.
The biggest carmaker in this country, Škoda Auto has stopped production in its Mladá Boleslav factory for a week. The machines were switched off on Friday at 22:00 CET and employees were given a week off work. The carmaker has said that in light of the financial crisis and low demand for new cars, it has been forced to take this step. Škoda Auto employs 27,500 people in the Czech Republic, 22,000 of them in Mladá Boleslav.
Emil Kučera, a Czech entomologist convicted in Darjeeling of poaching rare insects, has breached the terms of his bail and returned to the Czech Republic. Mr Kučera was sentenced to three years in prison by an Indian court in September, though was released on bail pending his appeal. The entomologist maintains his innocence. In a letter addressed to the Czech Foreign Ministry, Mr Kučera apologized for the problems that his return home may subsequently cause the ministry, but said that he was ‘psychologically exhausted’ following the events of the last couple of months.
Meanwhile, the head of the Civic Democrats, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, has said he will need to consider whether to stand for reelection at the party congress in December. Following the results, which slash the Civic Democrats’ majority in the Senate, Mr Topolánek called for a time of reflection within the party. One of Mr Topolánek’s biggest rivals within the Civic Democrats, Prague Mayor Pavel Bém, has urged for his party to call an extraordinary congress earlier than December
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