Some 15,000 Czech households still remain without electricity supplies due to extreme weather conditions. Heavy snowing and strong winds that hit the north and northeast of the Czech Republic over last several days caused power cuts, disrupted train lines and blocked roads. Repairs have often been hampered by further snowfall and damaged lines in hard-to-reach areas. Snowstorms, which began on Thursday, set new records for snowfall in the Czech Republic in the month of October. The conditions caught many local inhabitants as well as motorists off guard. Five people have died due to the severe weather conditions.
Unseeded Czech Petra Kvitová beat second seed Agniezska Radwanska, of Poland, 6:3, 6:2 at a WTA event in Linz, Austria, on Saturday, and advanced into the final. Kvitová, who beat world number one Dinara Safina at US Open last month, will face either Italian top seed Flavia Penneta or Yanina Wickmayer, of Belgium, seeded third.
Czech Railways is planning to let go 450 employees by mid December, a senior manager told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday. The state-owned company is also considering selling some of its property, and scrapping obsolete railway cars. These cost-cutting measures are expected to generate some 700 million crowns, or more than 40 million US dollars which should help the firm to re-structuralize and invest into new rail vehicles.
The Czech EU commissioner, Vladimír Špidla, has warned that delaying the ratification of the Lisbon treaty is driving the Czech Republic into “significant isolation”. Mr Špidla told the ČTK news agency on Saturday that the current situation not only weakens the Czech position within the European Union, but also undermines the countries relations to other EU member states. These issues, according to Commissioner Špidla, are much more important than whether or not the Czech Republic will lose its seat on the European Commission. That might happen if the Lisbon treaty is not ratified and the EU will be governed under the Treaty of Nice.
Chefs, cooks and confectioners celebrated the International Chefs’ Day in Prague on Saturday. Held under the auspices of Czech First Lady Ms Livia Klausová, the event offered specialties of modern Czech cuisine at some thirty stands around Prague’s Old Town Square. The proceedings are to go to the Mr and Mrs Klaus charity foundation.
Followers of the former Social Democrat prime minister, Miloš Zeman, formed a new party in Prague on Saturday to run in the next general elections. The Citizens’ Rights Party was founded by some 400 friends and colleagues of the former cabinet leader. The party’s preparatory committee consists of five former ministers of Mr Zeman’s cabinet, including ex-industry and trade minister Miroslav Grégr, ex-agriculture minister Jan Fencl and former education minister Eduard Zeman, among others. Miloš Zeman said he himself would not run for Parliament but would help the party with campaigning. Analysts believe the new project could harm the Social Democrat party as their priorities are very similar.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has said that the EU’s Lisbon treaty
has progressed too far to be stopped. Mr Klaus told the daily Lidové
Noviny on Saturday that although he did not consider the treaty to be a
good thing for the Czech Republic or Europe, "the train has travelled
far and too fast" and it would not be possible to stop it. The Czech
president also said he would not withhold the reform treaty’s
ratification in anticipation of the next British elections.
The Czech Republic is the last EU member state not to have ratified the Lisbon treaty. The country’s Constitutional Court is scheduled to rule on whether the document is in line with Czech law on October 27. However, earlier this moth Václav Klaus said he would not complete the ratification unless the Czech Republic is granted an exception form the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights concerning possible property claims from ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after WWII.
The Czech-Irish duo, Markéta Irglová and Glenn Hansard, are going to release a new album, Strict Joy, on October 27, the New York Times reported. The album, described as “a more ambitious, eclectic effort” was recorded in the United States. Ms Irglová and Mr Hansard continue working together even after their two-year romance ended last year.
In related news, the head of the president’s office Jiří Weigl made clear that new ratification of the Lisbon treaty by all EU states will not be necessary to meet President Václav Klaus’s conditions. Mr Weigl suggested on Friday that the country could receive guarantees similar to those given to Ireland ahead of the second Irish referendum. The Czech government has indicated a willingness to negotiate Mr Klaus’s demands with other EU members, but had sought guarantees the president would come forward with no further hurdles to the treaty. A number of EU leaders have expressed concern that the Czech president is purposely delaying ratification to allow for the British Conservative Party to call a referendum on the Lisbon treaty in 2010.