The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, attended a Czech ball in Brussels on Friday evening representing the symbolic launch of Czech cultural events during the country’s presidency of the European Union, the Czech News Agency reported. Speaking at the start of the ball, Mr Topolánek joked that he hoped it would become a tradition, at least until the Czech Republic was expelled from the EU. He said as well as its interests and agenda, the Czech Republic would also like to present its humour and bad habits during its presidency.
Around 1,000 people protested in Prague on Saturday against a planned US radar base. Among those who spoke was Vojtěch Filip, the leader of the Communist Party, which organised the demonstration. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that around two thirds of Czech are opposed to the radar base, which would be built in central Bohemia and be part of a planned American anti-missile shield. Prague and Washington have signed treaties on the radar, though the Czech Parliament has not yet voted on the matter.
Czech Television has chosen the Romany pop group Gipsy.cz to represent the
Czech Republic in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Czech TV
with the idea of a national song contest and itself nominated Gipsy.cz for
the semi-finals of the Eurovision, which is being held in Moscow in May.
Viewers will be able to vote on what song Gipsy.cz performs.
Since the Czech Republic began taking part in Eurovision in 2007 neither of the country’s two entrants – rock band Kabát and pop singer Tereza Kerndlová – made it past the semi-final stage.
The president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has cancelled a visit to Prague scheduled for Monday. A spokesperson for the Czech president, Václav Klaus, said Mr Abbas had to change his plans because of talks in Cairo and the situation in the Middle East. The Palestinian leader had been due to meet Mr Klaus, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and other senior Czech representatives in Prague.
The operators of the website of the Czech presidency of the European Union say over 590,000 people visited it in January, the Czech News Agency reported. The most frequent users of www.eu2009.cz are based in the Czech Republic, with more traffic on the Czech than the English or French language versions. Among those visiting the site are journalists, state employees and students.
Meanwhile, Russia, which is opposed to the radar and a planned missile site in Poland, has again intensified its rhetoric on the subject. A few days ago Moscow indicated it had dropped a threat to place short-range missiles in its Baltic territory of Kaliningrad in response to the US facilities. On Friday, however, the AP news agency reported that Russia said it would place missiles in Kaliningrad if the American project went ahead.
The Karamazov Brothers by Petr Zelenka and Tobruk by Václav Marhoul have both received eight nominations for the Czech Lion film awards. The Country Teacher by Bohdan Sláma picked up seven nominations at an event at Prague’s Lucerna on Friday night. The winners of the leading Czech film awards will be announced on March 7.
Czech businessman Bohumír Ďuričko is to face trial for murder and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The suspect is charged with the murder of Václav Kočka, jr - the son of a close former aide to opposition party leader Jiří Paroubek. Mr Kočka was shot at close range at a Prague restaurant last October, the site of a book launch by Mr Paroubek. The incident took place in the evening hours, after the launch had ended; the Social Democrat leader and others had already departed. Mr Ďuričko has maintained he was defending his girlfriend, then pregnant, in the incident.
The president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering, has said the EU will not see further enlargement unless the Lisbon treaty is ratified. He made the statement in Prague on Friday after a meeting with representatives from France, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain (the four countries consecutively holding the EU presidency as of last year until 2010). Mr Poettering did allow that Croatia's admission could be an exception. He stressed that EU countries which failed to ratify the treaty would have to accept responsibility for preventing newer countries from becoming members. The Irish rejected the treaty in a referendum last June, while the Czech Republic, which currently holds the EU presidency, has not voted on the document yet. The lower house is to discuss the treaty during an extraordinary session next week.