The Czech president, Václav Klaus, will lead the European Union delegation at an EU-Japan summit in Prague on May 4 as part of the Czech presidency of the 27-member bloc. Jan Fischer, who is to be appointed head of a caretaker Czech cabinet on May 8, will attend a working lunch with the Japanese delegation. The announcement was made on the website of Mr Klaus, who is a Eurosceptic and also says mankind is not to blame for climate change. Japan is to buy Czech carbon credits under a deal signed last month.
A march by the Workers’ Party in Krupka, north Bohemia on Saturday afternoon passed off quite peacefully. Police prevented the far-right group from attempting to enter a local apartment complex largely populated by Romanies. Two Romanies were arrested for throwing beer glasses at the far-right demonstrators. The Workers’ Party came to national attention when they fought running battles with police who stopped them from entering a Romany neighbourhood in Litvínov in November. Last month the Supreme Administrative Court turned down a Czech government request to ban the small grouping.
Weather forecasters have warned that dry weather and strong winds could cause fires in several parts of the Czech Republic. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute issued a warning that fires could break out in eight of the country’s regions between now and Tuesday night, when expected gales should have died down.
The UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná is to take over a large-scale project the late Jan Kaplický designed for the city of České Budějovice. The two-billion crown Antonín Dvořák Concert and Congress Centre was still in the planning stages when Kaplický died suddenly at the beginning of this year. The České Budějovice project has been nicknamed the stingray. It bears some resemblance to a National Library building dubbed the blob that Jan Kaplický designed for Prague; after he won the Czech Republic’s first ever international architecture tender for the library building the project was scotched by the city’s authorities.
A former leader of the American white supremacist organisation the Ku Klux Klan has been expelled from the Czech Republic. David Duke was arrested by Czech police shortly after arriving in Prague on Friday for denying the Holocaust in his book My Awakening. He was ordered to leave the country by midnight on Saturday. Mr Duke was brought to the Czech Republic by a member of the neo-Nazi group Národní odpor (National Resistance) and had been due to deliver lectures in Prague and Brno. Following his release from custody in the early hours of Saturday morning, a lawyer for the KKK man said she would file a complaint against the police, who she said had not followed correct procedure in the case.
Prague police are investigating the deaths of a number of drug addicts in the city in recent weeks. Five addicts between the ages of 20 and 30 are believed to have died in different parts of the capital in the last fortnight. A police spokesperson said they were long term users who did not appear to have overdosed.
The minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says Romanies have an important role to play in the fight against far-right extremism in the Czech Republic. Speaking in the newspaper Právo, Mr Langer said a new strategy to combat extremism to be unveiled by the prime minister would emphasise the responsibility of every citizen in dealing with the problem. Having been the victims of extremism recently, Romanies should realise they have a key role in fighting it, the minister said. The subject of far-right extremists has been in the news a lot lately following neo-Nazi demonstrations and a petrol bomb attack on a Roma family’s home that left a two-year-old girl fighting for her life.
The Czech women’s tennis team are tied 1:1 with the United States in the semi-finals of the Fed Cup in Brno. The Czechs went ahead when Petra Kvitová beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 7-6 in the first singles rubber on Saturday afternoon. That lead was later wiped out when Alexa Glatch beat Iveta Benešová 6-1 6-2. The last time the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia) reached the final of the Fed Cup was in 1988.
The Czech European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Vladimír Špidla has said the current recession is increasing the social exclusion of Romanies throughout the European Union. He made the statement at an EU Presidency meeting focussing on Romany integration on Friday. According to the commissioner, constructive measures to allow new opportunities were needed, stressing the new measures on education, housing, and employment needed to be tailored specifically to the Roma community. The newly-established platform is to focus on the issue of integration; this year, the EU set aside five million euros for the pilot project.
The outgoing Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Michael Kocáb has announced he will push for the founding of a council of specialists to help tackle extremism in the country. Speaking to journalists on Friday, the minister said that the public was underestimating rising extremism and anti-Romany sentiments. According to Mr Kocáb, the council would include politicians, representatives from the Roma community, sociologists, historians, lawyers and others. The aim - he made clear on Friday - was to generate vocal and positive discussion on the issues. Since last year the country has seen a higher number of far-right demonstrations, the latest in Ustí nad Labem last weekend. Saturday also saw an attack against a Romany family which shocked many in the country. Police are investigating whether it was racially-motivated.
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