Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said that the collapse of the Czech government halfway through the country’s EU presidency harms all small countries in the 27-nation bloc. In an interview with the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday, the outgoing Czech prime minister said that all post-communist countries and other small countries in Europe relied upon the Czech Republic to handle its presidency well. Mr Topolánek added that the collapse of his cabinet halfway through the presidency had given rise to comments in the European media, questioning small countries’ ability to run the EU. Mr Topolánek’s cabinet was toppled by a no-confidence vote on March 24. An interim government, which will steer the country to early elections, will take over the country formally on May 9. The Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union runs until the end of June.
A 31-year-old woman has died after the canoe she was rowing overturned in the Opava River in north Moravia on Saturday. The woman was in a group of eight canoeists; after her boat overturned they succeeded in dragging her to the bank of the river. By the time emergency services arrived on the scene, however, she was already dead, a spokesperson for Bruntálsko regional police said.
In an interview with Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday, the outgoing prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, said that he did not expect a scrap premium, included by the government in its anti-crisis stimulus package, to be implemented this year. The scrap premium, akin to subsidies already in place in Germany and Slovakia, was proposed by the opposition Social Democrats in return for their support of the package in the Czech Lower House. The scheme would encourage those with cars over ten years old to scrap them for a newer vehicle. The Social Democrats want to see the scheme in operation in this country by the autumn. But on Saturday, the outgoing prime minister said that Czech carmakers were already having difficulty meeting demand, and that the scrap premium should be implemented next year, or at least when that demand dried up, and not before.
This Saturday, Czech hockey star Jaromír Jágr flew back to the Czech Republic from Russia, where he has been playing this season with Avangard Omsk, saying he was fit and ready to play in the upcoming World Championships for his country. Omsk’s season ended on March 16, but the veteran Czech attacker stayed on in Russia to train some more on his own and with his club. He will start training with his Czech teammates next week in Liberec ahead of the country’s final matches in the Euro Hockey Tour.
Czechs think of Easter more as a festival to mark the arrival of spring than as a religious holiday, a poll conducted by the Median agency for Saturday’s edition of Lidové noviny suggests. Nearly 50 percent of those polled said that they thought of Easter as the start of a new season, while considerably less said that they thought of Easter as a commemoration of Christ’s death - only 18 percent of respondents said that they would be attending church to mark the festival. The survey suggested that Easter traditions are alive and well in the Czech Republic, with around 60 percent of those polled saying that they would be painting Easter eggs, and around the same amount linking the festival with the whipping of women, an age-old Czech custom at Easter time.
A Czech Airlines plane bound for Cancun, Mexico, was forced to return to Prague’s Ruzyně Airport five hours after take off on Saturday when a technical fault became apparent. The ČSA Airbus was flying above the North Sea when the fuel gauge developed a fault, one of the passengers told the news website Novinky.cz. The crew decided to make the return journey to Prague rather than landing in nearby Oslo, because the airline’s technicians were based in the former, the passenger added. One hundred and ninety three people were on board the ČSA flight, which touched down again in Ruzyně at 14:00 CET. A spokesperson for ČSA said that, in returning to Prague, the captain of the plane had acted in accordance with company security regulations.
This Saturday, April 11, was the hottest on record in the Czech Republic, with meteorologists measuring a temperature of 22.5 degrees Celsius in Prague this afternoon, and warmer temperatures being recorded around the country. The temperature measured at Prague’s Klementinum broke the record for this day set in 1781. According to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Teplice in north Bohemia enjoyed temperatures of 24.1 degrees on Saturday afternoon, while temperatures in South Moravia reached 24.7 degrees Celsius.
The Czech presidency of the European Union has congratulated Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for securing a third term in office. Mr Bouteflika won a landslide victory after changing the country’s constitution to allow himself another five years at the helm. On Friday, the Czech presidency of the European Union congratulated Mr Bouteflika and described Algeria as an ‘important and reliable partner’ in the Mediterranean region. In a statement, the Czech presidency paid homage to Algeria’s role in the ‘mutual fight against terrorism and illegal migration’.
Czech media reported on Friday that the new Prime Minister Jan Fischer has almost assembled his cabinet. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes said 11 positions have been filled with only four still in question. In many cases, the new cabinet members will be deputy ministers already serving in the ministry. Newspapers report that the head of the competition office Martin Pecina is one of the outside experts being brought in. He is tipped to take over at the Ministry of Interior. Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told Czech Radio on Thursday that the former Czech EU ambassador Jan Kohout would be heading the Foreign Ministry. He is now serving as a deputy foreign minister responsible for development, consular and visa affairs and international and community law. Jan Fischer’s caretaker cabinet is to have 16 ministerial posts. It is due to take over on May 9th and lead the country until early elections in October.
The Prague City Court on Friday sentenced businessman Bohumír Duričko to 12.5 years in prison for the murder of Václav Kočka Jr. The case generated enormous publicity since the victim was the son of a close friend of opposition leader Jiří Paroubek and the shooting incident took place at a late-night party following Mr. Paroubek’s book launch at a restaurant in the centre of Prague. Duričko, who pleaded not guilty, saying he did not intend to kill Kočka Jr and had fired his gun in self-defence, has appealed the verdict.