Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolánek has said he is in favour of dissolving the Ministry of Regional Development. Speaking at a press conference regarding historical monuments, Mr Topolánek criticised the fact that monuments are controlled by the Ministry of Culture while the closely related aspect of tourism is managed by the Regional Development Ministry, and added that if tourism were to be managed by the Ministry of Culture as well, an agency rather than a ministry would suffice to cover what few responsibilities would be left to the Regional Development Ministry. The former prime minister also said that the only reason no such change had been made under his government was that the Christian Democratic Party was in charge of both ministries.
A Czech Airlines plane made a diverted landing in Prague Friday after the pilot reported non-standard responses from the flight instruments. The nearly 200 passengers on board the flight from the Greek island of Corfu were transported Saturday morning to their original destination of Brno by bus. Czech Airlines stated the flight was diverted to Prague because the company lacks the appropriate repair facilities in Brno.
Czech President Václav Klaus has recommended citizens stock up on classic 100 watt light bulbs ahead of an EU regulation banning their sale. Speaking at the launch of his latest book, a critique of the environmental movement called “Blue Planet Under Threat”, Mr Klaus said that if he were a normal citizen and shopper he would buy a lifetime supply of “good, old Edison bulbs” to avoid joining the modern bandwagon. Beginning September 1, manufacturers will no longer be able to supply light bulbs of 100 Watts or higher, which are to be gradually replaced with more energy-efficient bulbs. Ecologists, including several from Mr Klaus’s former party, the Civic Democrats, have called the remarks “absurd”, and opined that the president is simply against any regulation that comes from Brussels.
Czech fans of the late Michael Jackson held a dance spectacle in Prague Saturday as part of a worldwide event marking the pop musician’s birthday. A crowd of 700 danced to the song “Beat It” in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, where Jackson stayed for his last performance in Prague 13 years ago, and at several other locations in the Prague city centre.
The 2009 harvest in the Czech Republic is expected to be about 10% lower than the previous year, the minister of agriculture, Jakub Šebesta, announced Saturday. With the cereals and corn harvest almost in, the ministry expects a total volume of 7.4 million tonnes, with 5.3 sufficient to cover domestic demand.
Medical experts have said they believe the amount of swine flue vaccine purchased by the state is insufficient. Last week the Czech government ordered one million doses of the vaccine, or one-fifth of the number originally planned, at a cost of 220 million crowns. The amount covers 5% of the population, ensuring vaccination for those responsible for critical state infrastructure, including health care workers and those providing energy, water and food supplies.
Around a hundred soldiers from the Texas National Guard will be arriving in the Czech Republic in September with six F-16 fighter jets for a ten-day training exercise with Czech pilots. In addition to training, the Ministry of Defence said the Squadron Exchange exercise at the Čáslav military base is intended to allow Czech pilots returning from the first foreign mission of the Czech Air Force Fighter Squadron to exchange information with their American counterparts. A similar exercise was held with Belgian pilots in 2007.
A survey conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre suggests that Czechs’ confidence in state political offices is declining. According to the survey the greatest loss of confidence was in the office of president, which dropped by seven percent over the summer months. Still, at 59%, President Klaus enjoys far greater confidence than members of parliament, whom only 22% say they trust, a fall of 3%, or senators, who fare only 1% better. 43% of people said they have faith in their local regional representatives. Only one-tenth of the 1165 respondents said they were content with the current political situation in the Czech Republic.
President Barack Obama’s administration has denied a report that the
United States had given up on building anti-missile bases in the Czech
Republic and Poland. State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said the
American government’s strategy on missile defence was under review and no
conclusions had been reached on whether to place missiles in Poland and a
linked radar base on Czech territory. On Thursday the Polish newspaper
Gazeta Wyborcza quoted lobbyists and officials in Washington as saying such
plans had been scrapped.
Russia responded angrily to the project, which it saw as an encroachment in the former Soviet bloc, and threatened to point nuclear warheads at the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Czech Parliament has agreed to allow the US to build a radar in central Bohemia. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that most Czechs are opposed to the idea.
Meanwhile, Mr Klaus has announced plans to publish a book looking at communism, the fall of that system 20 years ago, and developments since then. In a recent newspaper article he said that it was wrong to believe that the road to freedom and democracy over the last two decades had not been handled well. The president also says the role of individuals in bringing about the end of communism is overrated; he says the Eastern Bloc’s regimes collapsed after reaching a state of exhaustion.