The European Union fully backs the United Nation’s peacekeeping operations, the EU said in a statement drafted by the Czech Republic and presented at the UN Security Council meeting on Friday. The statement was presented by Petr Kaiser, Czech deputy ambassador to the UN. Mr Kaiser has said that the United Nation’s peacekeeping capacities should be deployed only when there was no other viable option and only for the shortest time necessary.
Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek has been knocked out of the Australian Open by Fernando Verdasco of Spain. Štěpánek lost Friday’s third round match 4-6, 0-6, 0-6, despite getting off to a good start by breaking the 14th-seeded player’s serve. In the previous round, Štěpánek had defeated Michael Berrer of Germany. The last Czech to remain in the singles competition is Tomáš Berdych, who will face Roger Federer on Saturday night.
A demonstration by far-right supporters passed without any major incident in the town of Litvínov on Saturday. Around thirty members of the far-right Worker’s Party marched through Janov, a part of town that is home to a strong Romany minority. According to the Worker’s Party, the Town Hall has not been dealing with complaints from the local people about the situation in the neighbourhood. In November last year, Janov witnessed the worst street violence in the past eight years, with around 600 neo-Nazis clashing with the police.
The health of former Czech president Václav Havel, who was hospitalized with a lung inflammation last Monday, is steadily improving. His doctor repeated on Saturday that if no complications arise, Mr Havel could be discharged from the hospital late next week. Václav Havel, who is 72, was hospitalized last week, after complaining of breathing difficulties. He underwent minor surgery which was followed by complications. He is reported to be suffering from respiratory problems caused by a congestion of the right lung, part of which was removed in 1996 when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Czech cross country skier Lukáš Bauer has clinched his first victory in this season’s World Cup, when he came first in the men’s 15 km classic in Otepaa, Estonia. The winner of last year’s cross country World Cup won his favourite race in a time of 35 minutes 43 seconds, beating Sweden’s Johan Olsson by 1.5 seconds. Vincent Vittoz of France finished third.
A new opinion poll conducted by the STEM agency for the opposition Social Democrats suggests that most Czechs are in favour of the European Union. According to the poll, 65 percent of Czechs are satisfied with their country’s EU membership. Nearly 70 percent of Czechs believe that EU membership benefits the country and 40 percent think that the country is well prepared for the current EU presidency. Over 60 percent of respondents think that EU presidency will raise the Czech Republic’s prestige in Europe and wish that the parliament approves the Lisbon treaty.
The Czech Republic’s second elections to the European Parliament will probably take place on June 5 and 6. The EP elections are to be held between June 4 and 7, with each state specifying the exact date on its own. Under the Czech election law, the election days are Friday and Saturday. President Václav Klaus has to set the EP election date by the 7th of March, 90 days ahead of the election at the latest, according to a decision of the EU Council. Political parties will be required to submit their lists of candidates by the end of March. Following EU enlargement, the Czech Republic will have 22 seats in the European Parliament, two seats less than in the previous period.
Czech cinemas raised sales by 20 million crowns year-on-year to a record 1.22 billion last year, according to the data released by the Film Distributors Association. The number of cinema-goers increased to nearly 13 million, the highest number in the past 14 years. Multiplex cinemas account for the biggest share on sales as well as for the increase of visitor numbers. The price of tickets in Czech cinemas has continued to rise last year. In 2000, the price of a ticket was around 70 crowns, while in 2008 people paid 100 crowns on average.
The Czech EU presidency has said it will try to ease - if not remove - remaining barriers for citizens from newer EU countries to move freely on older members’ labour markets. Such barriers continue to affect countries which joined in 2004, including the Czech Republic. The commitment to easing conditions was made by the Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas, at an informal two-day meeting between EU labour and social affairs ministers in southern Moravia. Belgium and Denmark have announced they will open their labour markets as of May but Germany and Austria are expected to apply restrictions until the end of April 2011. Mr Nečas insisted on Friday that member countries had no reason to continue applying restrictions during the transitional period, adding that countries that had opened their markets earlier had benefited from the step.
President Václav Klaus has named new ministers to Mirek Topolánek’s
government, completing a long-awaited cabinet reshuffle. Those named on
Friday at Prague Castle include four newcomers, among them Daniela
Filipiová as health minister and Michael Kocáb (a well-known musician
public figure) as the minister for minority affairs. Cyril Svoboda, a
minister without portfolio until now, was named the minister for regional
development, while Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová was named deputy
prime minister. A broad cabinet reshuffle was first promised by the prime
minister last October, when the coalition parties were badly defeated in
regional and Senate elections.
On Friday President Václav Klaus expressed the hope that the new cabinet would find the necessary backing in the lower house to better face the ongoing economic downturn.
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