Only seven of the European Union’s regional development ministers turned up for an informal meeting being held in Mariánské Lázně as part of the Czech presidency of the 27-member bloc. The event’s host, Czech Regional Development Minister Cyril Svoboda, said one reason for the poor attendance was the fact everybody in Europe knows that the Czech government is in resignation. The two-day gathering is set to conclude on Friday afternoon.
Three firms have made it into the next round of a huge tender to deal with extensive environmental damage resulting from the communist era. At around CZK 115 billion (over 5.5 billion dollars), the contract is one of the biggest ever offered by the Czech state. The companies in the running are Geosan Group, Marius Pedersen Engineering and Environmental Services, the Finance Ministry said on Thursday.
Some 653 Czech citizens applied for asylum in Canada in the first three months of this year, the Canadian embassy in Prague said on Thursday. That figure is over two thirds the number for the whole of 2008. Nearly three dozen applicants were granted asylum between the start of January and the end of March. Earlier this week, Ottawa asked the Czech government to take steps against what it called unscrupulous mediators who help facilitate the emigration of Czechs, in reaction to a Czech newspaper report that the departures of Czech Romanies for Canada was organised, and had an economic subtext. Ottawa lifted visa requirements for Czechs in 2007, a decade after introducing them following a wave of asylum requests from Czech Romanies.
Former Chelsea boss Avram Grant is be interested in the job of coaching the Czech national football team, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The newspaper quoted a Czech football association official who apparently discussed the matter with the manager, who is 53, and previously helmed the Israeli national side. Czech FA executives are due to meet next Tuesday with a view to finding a replacement for Petr Rada, who was sacked earlier this month after only six competitive games in charge. No foreigner has ever managed the Czech international squad.
The Czech EU commissioner for labour and social affairs, Vladimír Špidla, will also be acting commissioner for regional policy between May 17 and June 7, when he stands in for Danuta Huebner, who is running for election to the European Parliament in Poland. A spokesperson for Mr Špidla said he was taking over the regional development brief at the request of the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso.
David Černý has said he will remove his sculpture Entropa from an EU building in Brussels early, in protest at the fall of the Czech government. The controversial work, which plays with European stereotypes, was erected as part of the Czech presidency of the EU. However, the artist said he would take the sculpture down by May 10, when a caretaker Czech government should be appointed over a month and a half before the presidency comes to an end. Mr Černý said the move was in protest at what he described as the “disgrace” President Klaus, the Social Democrats and the Communists had caused to the Czech people with the fall of the government. The two parties joined forces against the cabinet in a vote of no-confidence, while critics of Mr Klaus suggest he helped orchestrate the government’s fall.
President Václav Klaus has decided to revoke the prison sentence of a Romany man whose child is fighting for her life after an arson attack on their home in Vítkov, north Moravia last weekend. A spokesperson said the decision would remain in place until the president determines whether to issue a pardon to the man, who is 33. He had been found guilty of theft, damage to property and driving without a licence, but did not turn up to begin serving a jail term in December. The authorities caught up with him after a petrol bomb attack on his house that left his two-year-old daughter with burns on 80 percent of her body. The man and his wife are also receiving treatment in hospital for the burns they suffered as a consequence of the fire-bombing, which is still under investigation.
Conceptual artist Kateřina Šedá is set to become the first Czech woman to have a solo show at London’s Tate Modern gallery, Hospodářské noviny reported. A curator from the prestigious modern art gallery told the newspaper that Šedá was one of the most interesting personalities of her generation. The exhibition should be held either this autumn or next year.