Civic Democrat MP Marek Benda has admitted that his academic title was acquired improperly at the law faculty at Plzeň’s University of West Bohemia. The faculty has been embroiled in controversy since it emerged that some students had received academic qualifications there without having done the necessary work. Mr Benda, who is chair of the lower house’s constitutional-legal committee, said he had neglected some formalities in connection with his doctorate. He has asked to be allowed to defend his dissertation again once it has been completed. Former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil, who was appointed dean of the disgraced law faculty on Monday, said he would seek legal advice on whether that was possible. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have called for Mr Benda to step down as chair of the constitutional-legal committee.
Czech ice hockey player Tomáš Kaberle has been named first Star of the Week in the NHL. The defenceman received the accolade after registering two goals and 10 assists in four away games for Toronto Maple Leafs. The Czech player, who is 31, was credited with helping Toronto take points in all four games, though the club suffered three overtime losses.
The Czech economy should grow by 0.8 percent in 2010, according to a newly released forecast from the European Commission. Its prognosis is rather more positive than that of the Czech finance ministry, which expects a 0.3 percent rise in gross domestic product next year – following a fall of 5 percent this year. The European Commission said the Czech Republic had come out of a recession in the second quarter of 2009 after real GDP had stabilized; it predicted mild growth in the final two quarters of 2009. Looking further ahead, it forecast growth of 2.3 percent in 2011.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has put his signature to ratification
of the European Union’s Lisbon treaty, allowing the document to come into
force across the whole of the 27-member bloc; the Czech Republic was the
last state in the EU to complete ratification of Lisbon. Mr Klaus released
a statement saying he had signed the treaty at 15:00 on Tuesday, only hours
after the Czech Constitutional Court ruled that it did not contravene the
In a statement, the Czech president said he had expected the court to rule in favour of Lisbon. However, he also said that its verdict had not been legally neutral but represented a biased political defence of the document. Mr Klaus also said the Czech Republic would cease to be a sovereign state once the Lisbon treaty was implemented.
The caretaker Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, co-signed the Lisbon treaty later on Tuesday afternoon, meaning that ratification has been completed on the part of the Czech Republic. The document must now be lodged in Rome.
An Austrian company says it is hoping to sell 30,000 mobile phones for the elderly on the Czech market every year. A representative of the firm Emporia said its target market were the 1.5 million people in the Czech Republic over the age of 65. A number of other companies are already selling mobiles for seniors in this country.
With the subject of who will become the Czech Republic’s next European commissioner sure to heat up in the wake of Mr Klaus’s signing of Lisbon, his former party the Civic Democrats have said they should be allowed to make that choice. Leader Mirek Topolánek said on Tuesday that the party deserved that right as they had come first in the last elections to the Czech lower house. Mr Topolánek also said he would discuss the matter with Prime Minister Fischer and the leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, on Wednesday. Mr Fischer has said that if the political parties cannot agree on a candidate, his interim cabinet will select one themselves by the start of next week.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said on Monday that a Czech EU Commissioner should be selected within the next week. He warned political parties that if they could not come to agreement on a candidate then the government would have to select one itself. This could mean going outside the list of names that the political parties have come up with so far, he added. Political parties have so far put forward five candidates. The Civic Democrats have suggested former European affairs minister Alexandr Vondra. The Social Democrats want current EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla to stay on in the job. The Greens have put forward former Czech presidential candidate Jan Švejnar, the Communists European Parliament member and former astronaut, Vladimír Remek and the Christian Democrats former minister Pavel Svoboda.
The academic senate of the Plzeň law faculty elected former justice
minister Jiří Pospíšil as the new dean of the troubled faculty on
Monday evening. The move helps stave off the threat of emergency management
and closure. Mr. Pospíšil won 11 votes from the 18-strong senate, one
more than needed to be elected.
The Plzeň law faculty is currently the focus of a highly-publicised scandal involving plagiarism, fast-track diplomas, and suspected corruption. A former student at the faculty, Mr. Pospíšil was brought in five weeks ago to try and sort out the shambles. The academic senate faced a choice between Mr. Pospíšil and Prague lawyer Karol Hrádela. Mr. Hrádela argued that an outsider with no connections to the faculty should get the job. Former Jaroslav Zachariáš stepped down during the scandal. Many of those receiving fast-track diplomat have been Czech politicians with prominent Civic Democrat Marek Benda the latest to come to the attention of local media.
October was the worst month for fatal road accidents so far this year, according to preliminary police figures. Ninety-seven people died in road accidents but police warn that the figure could be higher. A year ago the October death toll was 77 but in 2007 it was 96. Up till now, July had the record as the worst month with 81 deaths. So far this year, around 700 people have died on Czech roads but monthly figures have mostly showed a decline compared with a year earlier.