EU environment ministers start a two-day informal meeting in Prague on Tuesday. At the top of their agenda will be discussions over climate change and whether the EU 27 should be bound by common strategy or a more binding legal framework for action. The ministers will also be preparing for the EU’s negotiating stance at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. The conference will attempt to set worldwide targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases after 2012. Particular attention will be focused on what offer will be made by the new US administration of President Barack Obama.
Czech and Moravian Catholic bishops have criticised a new Czech translation of the bible. They say the translation is imprecise in some aspects and departs from accepted standpoints and liturgical terminology. In a statement, the church body, the bishops’ conference, added that the new version was missing seven books from the Old Testament and others were translated in abbreviated versions. Accompanying explanation for readers was also lacking, it added. The new version – described as a translation for the 21st century - is the first new version of the bible for 30 years and uses modern, contemporary Czech. The previous version, the Czech ecumenical translation dating from the 1970’s, still used archaic language.
In ice hockey, Karlovy Vary have won their first extra league title in the club’s 76 year old history. The west Bohemian club took the title with a 4: 3 home victory against Slavia Prague on Sunday night to give them a 4:2 lead in the series. Karlovy Vary came back after trailing 3:0 in the game. The victory is revenge for the defeat suffered by Karlovy Vary in the finals last year against the same opponent, Slavia Prague.
The Czech EU presidency has expressed deep concern at the violent clashes that have taken place on the streets of the Thai capital Bangkok between the security service and army and anti-government protesters, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday. The statement called for protesters to refrain from further violence and called for a settlement to be sought though democratic dialogue within the constitution. One person was reported killed and at least 90 people during clashes which have culminated with an army and security forces clamp down on protesters calling for the overthrow of the current government. The demonstrators succeeded in cancelling a summit of South-East Asian countries in the coastal town of Pattaya on Saturday.
In football, around 500 police were on standby for the high risk top of the table derby clash between Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague on Monday. Slavia went into the home game with an 11 point lead over their historic rivals and the chance to put the title almost beyond doubt. Both teams have had problems scoring of late. That did not appear to have put off spectators with the early evening match sold out. The game ended in a 1:1 draw.
The leader of the main opposition Social Democratic Party, Jiří Paroubek, is mainly held responsible for the recent political crisis according to a poll released by the news site lidovky.cz on Monday. A poll by the Median agency found 44 percent of those questioned identified Mr Paroubek as being responsible for the crisis which toppled the centre-right coalition government just over two weeks ago. Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was blamed by 41 percent. Around a third of those questioned also identified Mr Paroubek as the main gainer from the crisis. The government collapsed mid way through the Czech EU presidency after a surprise defeat in the no-confidence vote.
Slavia Prague attacker Jaroslav Bednář, one of the stars of the finals and domestic ice hockey extra league, admitted after the game against Karlovy Vary that he had played with a fractured leg. His chance of playing for the Czech Republic in the ice hockey World Championships in Switzerland is now threatened. The player said after the defeat that he would now rest up and see what happens. The world championships begin on April 24. Bednář is credited with 39 goals and 53 assists over the last season, an extra league record.
Five units of firefighters were called to battle a forest fire near Máchovo jezero in north Bohemia on Saturday evening. The fire covered an area spanning 4.5 hectares, and due to difficult conditions, the emergency services employed special helicopters to extinguish the blaze. A spokesperson for the regional fire brigade said that it was too early to calculate the cost of the damage caused, and said that the causes of the fire would be investigated. According to firefighters, the lack of rain in the region for several weeks meant that the forest floor was bone dry, and created the ideal conditions for the fire to spread.
Speaking to TV Prima on Sunday, Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek confirmed that his party would nominate Jan Kohout for the post of foreign minister in the interim government which will take over the country on May 9. Mr Kohout was the Czech ambassador to the EU until 2008. After the government was toppled in a no-confidence vote at the end of March, the outgoing coalition and opposition Social Democrats agreed to form a caretaker government of experts to tide the country to early elections in October. Head of the Czech Statistical Office Jan Fischer was officially appointed head of this government by President Vaclav Klaus on April 9. He has yet to disclose who will form his cabinet. The outgoing coalition will nominate eight ministers, while the Social Democrats will propose seven, including foreign minister and deputy prime minister for European affairs.
The head of the Czech army’s Special Operations Group, Petr Krčmář, has been removed from his post alongside two other senior officials, Czech Television reported on Saturday. The unit is currently being investigated by the Czech Defence Ministry, following a series of internal conflicts, Czech Television reported. On Thursday, Jan Čermák, a spokesperson for the Defence Ministry, confirmed that three senior officials from the unit had been transferred to other positions in the army. Czech Television reported on Saturday that the three men concerned were considering leaving the army altogether. The broadcaster said that problems had arisen in the unit following soldiers’ return from Afghanistan, where they were posted for two years until 2008.