Former Czech President Václav Havel told the Italian paper La Stampa on Saturday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy “had a tendency to speak faster than he thinks”. In the interview, Mr Havel was reacting to Nicolas Sarkozy’s remarks about a planned US anti-missile defence shield in Central Europe. The French President said that the defence system would not enhance Europe’s security. The former Czech president Václav Havel also said that Mr Sarkozy reminded him of Edouard Daladier, the French prime minister who signed the Munich Agreement in September 1938.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said that President Václav Klaus is not fully familiar with the reality of the European Union. In an interview published by the Austrian daily Der Standard on Saturday, Mr Schwarzenberg said that like every critic, President Klaus was right in many issues, but the EU reality escaped him. Czech President Václav Klaus, known for his euro-scepticism, met with a leading opponent of the Lisbon treaty, Declan Ganley during his recent visit to Ireland. The meeting provoked a strong reaction from the Irish government. In the interview for the Austrian daily, Mr Schwarzenberg also rejected doubts about the adoption of the Lisbon treaty in the Czech Republic, and said that the Czech government was stable and in no danger of falling during the country’s upcoming EU presidency.
The Pálava white wine variety produced by Vinselekt Michlovský from Rakvice in South Moravia won an international champion title at the Terravino Mediterranean International Wine and Spirit Challenge in Israel on Saturday. This is the first time any Moravian wine has won such title at an international competition. Moravian winemakers also won eight gold medals at the competition.
Hundreds of police and customs officers and other officials raided the largest Vietnamese marketplace in Prague on Saturday. The authorities suspect that various kinds of criminal activities take place at the marketplace in Prague-Libuš, known as Little Hanoi. Officials were looking for counterfeits, illegal aliens and wanted persons. Foreigners’ police have detained more than 40 people since the start of the raid. Czech authorities claim that criminality within the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic is on the rise; the Czech foreign ministry recently suspended the issuing of long-term visas for Vietnamese citizens as a result.
Members of the Romany minority from northern Moravia have warned that mass Romany emigration might occur if the government does not deal with right-wing extremism in the country. In a letter addressed to PM Minister Mirek Topolánek on Friday, they said the many Romany families were already seriously considering leaving the country. Last week, a march of some 500 right-wing extremists took place in the northern Bohemian town of Litvínov, with a large Romany community. 16 people were injured in clashes with the police. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek told the local authorities in Litvínov on Friday that the government was going to address the problem at its next session.
Green MPs Olga Zubová and Věra Jakubková left their party’s deputies’ group on Saturday during a party congress in Pardubice. Ms Zubová also resigned as the head of the Green Party’s national council. The two politicians cited long-term disputes with party leadership as the reason but said they were not going to leave the Green Party as well. Both MPs have consistently voted against the ruling coalition in the lower house of the Czech Parliament; they are opposed to some of the key coalition projects such as the health care reforms and the positioning of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Both MPs said however that they still considered themselves part of the coalition.
The most loyal Czech employee, 77-year-old Herbert Miech from the Silesian town of Kravaře, has spent 53 years working for a single company. In 1955, he got his first job as a tool-maker at a paper works that still exists today. During his career, he has been a mechanic, production manager and even the head of the whole company. For the last even years, he has been the company’s sales manager. Mr Miech says the key of how to remain loyal to one employer is to stick with the company at all times, good or bad. Mr Miech will retire by the end of the year.
Czech prosecutors are to ask for the extradition of suspected criminal gang member Tomáš Půta. Mr Půta – a member of the so-called Berdych gang - was arrested in Ireland in 2003. He is wanted by the Czech authorities for an alleged role in the ‘crime of the century’: the holding up of an armoured van in Prague 6 for 153 million crowns (the equivalent of around 7.5 million US dollars). The robbery took place in September 2002. In the incident, masked men flagged down the vehicle and threatened to use explosives unless the money was handed over.
Influential Civic Democrat Petr Bendl, the outgoing governor of central Bohemia, has revealed he is not giving high chances to Prague Mayor Pavel Bém in defeating party leader Mirek Topolánek at an upcoming party congress. Just last month, Mr Topolánek’s future at the head of the party was put in doubt after the Civic Democrats suffered disastrous results in regional and Senate elections. But Mr Bendl – who is a Bém supporter - has suggested the prime minister has been able to consolidate his position. He said that support for the leader has remained strong outside the capital and suggested that Civic Democrats are worried that voting against Prime Minister Topolánek could cause a rift in the party.
Union leaders have called off a readiness to strike at Tesco stores in the country after reaching agreement with management on the increasing of personnel at sites. Tesco representative Milan Matušík confirmed on Friday that steps had been taken to boost staff numbers ahead of the holiday season. Union members had complained of understaffing and had threatened protest action. Tesco Stores first entered the Czech market in 1996, and now operate more than 80 supermarkets throughout the country.