The White House on Friday published a statement issued earlier in the week by US President Barack Obama, congratulating the Czechs on 91 years of statehood. October 28 is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, commemorating the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The Czechs and Slovaks then split in 1993. In the brief statement issued on Wednesday, a traditional diplomatic gesture, the US president called the Czech Republic “a close ally and vital partner”, sharing “a history in the struggle for freedom and democracy”. Mr Obama has spoken on other occasions about Czech-US ties, including in a key address in the Czech capital earlier this year, where he outlined the need for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Young British pop star Lily Allen took to the stage for some 1,500 people at a Prague club on Friday, performing songs from her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You, as well as from her debut. The performance lasted for a little more than an hour, ČTK reported, and included the hits Not Fair and The Fear. Earlier this year, The Fear topped the charts in the Czech Republic for several weeks.
The British newspaper The Guardian has reported that European leaders
including Germany’s Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy
were “incensed” over a letter the head of the British Conservative
Party David Cameron sent to Czech President Václav Klaus. The move, taken
in September, was seen as a clear attempt to delay and help scupper the
EU’s Lisbon treaty. The criticism by the EU leaders, the daily reported,
came to a head at the EU summit in Brussels.
The Czech President Václav Klaus said on Friday he would raise no further conditions for the treaty’s ratification, after the EU granted the Czech Republic an opt-out on the treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The move means Mr Klaus could sign after the Czech Constitutional Court issues a ruling on a final complaint next week. The British Conservative Party itself is now moving away from earlier plans to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, The Guardian reported. The Czech Republic is the only country remaining to ratify the document, which reforms the running of the 27-member bloc.
Czech hockey forward Petr Sýkora has proven his worth back in the line-up
for the Minnesota Wild. Sýkora, who sat out the Wild’s last game,
once on Friday and earned one assist to help his team defeat the New York
Rangers by a score of 3:2.
In other NHL action, Tomáš Fleischmann scored two goals for Washington in a losing effort against the New York Islanders, who won 4:3 in overtime.
The Florida Panthers’ Rostislav Olesz scored the only goal in the shoot-out on Friday between the Panthers and Dallas, giving Florida a 6:5 win.
Saturday’s edition of the Czech daily Lidové noviny has reported that
Prime Minister Jan Fischer is considering nominating the former minister
for industry and trade Vladimír Dlouhý for the post of Czech EU
commissioner. Mr Dlouhý, who currently works for Goldman Sachs Europe,
was a central figure in 1990s Czech politics, featured most recently in
government’s now defunct economic advisory committee NERV. Lidové
writes that as a nominee Mr Dlouhý would likely get backing from several
of the country’s parliamentary parties, including the Civic Democrats,
Top 09, and the Communists.
The paper adds that the Social Democrats were not necessarily against– although that party would like to see current commissioner Vladimír Špidla continue in a new term. The Christian Democrats and the Greens, meanwhile, are reportedly not in favour. Prime Minister Jan Fischer, heading a caretaker government, had pressed the two largest parties, the Civic and Social Democrats, to agree on a joint-candidate, which they have failed to do; he said on Friday that the nomination of a candidate could be no longer be put off.
The legendary Czech theatre Semafor celebrated its 50th birthday in style on Friday evening with a gala concert featuring Semafor songs and hits. On hand were stars associated with the theatre such as Eva Pilarová, Pavlína Filipovská and Karel Štědrý. The two-hour event was hosted by two of Semafor’s most well-known entertainers, Jitka Molavcová and Jiří Suchý. Over the course of the evening, they and other Semafor members paid tribute to the famous theatre and remembered departed members such as Waldemar Matuška, who died earlier this year.
A new poll conducted by the SANEP internet polling agency has suggested that more than 50 percent of Czechs are dissatisfied with the work of the country’s police. Citing the report, the Czech news agency said that 52 percent of respondents replied in the negative when asked if the country’s police fulfilled the obligation to serve and protect. 59 percent said they had not been helped by officers in cases, while 36 percent said the opposite. More than 10,000 people between the ages of 18 and 69 took part in the internet poll, which was conducted over nine days.
The D2 highway in the direction from Brno to Bratislava was blocked for two hours on Saturday following a crash involving a 30-year-old motorcyclist and an automobile driver. The motorcyclist suffered serious head injuries in the accident and lost consciousness. He was transported to hospital, suspected of suffering internal bleeding.
In related news, the Social Democrats have said they will push for a “narrowing” of the Czech Republic’s opt-out to the Charter of Fundamental Rights if they win the general election next year. On Friday, party leader Jiří Paroubek slammed the government for agreeing to the opt-out, saying the agreement should have applied only to the country’s Beneš decrees. The historic decrees sanctioned the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czech soil after World War II, and allowed for the confiscation of property. The government said on Friday that the opt-out, pursued by the country’s president to block property rights claims by Sudeten Germans, would not put Czechs at a disadvantage. The government also stressed that anything other than a general wording in the concession to the Czech Republic would have buried the Lisbon treaty.
Caretaker Prime Minister Jan Fisher on Friday sharply rejected suggestions that the Czech delegation had failed to defend the country’s interests in Brussels. Mr. Fischer said that his team had done the best possible job under the circumstances, had not overstepped its mandate and had not in any way put at risk the rights of Czech citizens. Responding to criticism from the Social Democrats, Mr. Fisher said that trying to arrange an exemption pertaining to the Beneš decrees alone would have buried the Lisbon treaty. He said the Social Democrats knew perfectly well what the Czech government delegation would strive to achieve in Brussels and had not voiced any criticism ahead of the trip.