The Czech president’s office has offered an explanation for its failure to invite Václav Havel to last week’s signing of the US-Russia nuclear deal at Prague Castle. A spokesman for the Czech president said that at the time the guest list was being prepared Mr Havel had been ill. The former president himself told Czech TV that he did not think the mistake was that of President Václav Klaus but rather of some of his staff. Mr Havel’s former spokesman Ladislav Špaček had earlier called the Castle’s omission of Mr Havel “scandalous”. In his view, Mr Havel should have been present as a statesman who had raised the profile of the Czech Republic and had been one of the main architects of its foreign policy.
Prague City Hall unanimously rejected plans for an amendment to the gambling legislation that should limit the ability of cities and towns to regulate gambling in their municipalities. The amendment is to be debated this week by the lower house of the Czech Parliament, after it was approved last week by the house’s budget committee. According to the mayors of Prague municipalities, the amendment will make it impossible for local authorities to determine where gambling machines and video lottery terminals can be positioned. Prague Mayor Pavel Bém said that if approved, the amendment would dramatically increase the number of gambling bars in the capital as well as other cities and towns. The claims were rejected by the Czech sports betting firms association which believes the new law would in fact give municipalities more power in regulating gambling.
Czech tennis number one Tomáš Berdych won his first clay match of the new season when he beat Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6:3, 6:1 in the first round at Monte Carlo Masters tournament on Monday. After a slow beginning, which saw him losing 0:2 in the first set, Berdych managed to turn the game around winning five games in a row. He then made very few faults and served seven aces to clinch a victory. In the second round, Tomáš Berdych will face Richard Gasquet from France.
The Czech government will meet on Tuesday to discuss the details of a day
of national mourning in honour of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and
Polish officials killed in Saturday’s plane crash. A spokesman for the
Czech Foreign Ministry said the government is likely to agree that the day
of mourning should coincide with day of Mr Kaczynski’s funeral; Czech
national flags on official buildings will be drawn half-mast, and a minute
of silence will be held at noon. Also, casinos and gambling bars will
for the day. The government will also suggest that organizers consider
postponing any public events.
Czech President Václav Klaus agreed with the government on Sunday that a day of national mourning should be held in the Czech Republic. Similar measures were adopted in 2005 to honour the victims of the tsunami in south-east Asia, and the late Pope John Paul II.
Seven violent attacks against Jews were registered in the Czech Republic in 2009, according to a study by Tel Aviv University released on Monday. Although it mentions no concrete attack, the study highlights the case of the Czech Workers Party, which was banned by a Czech court earlier this year and which drew attention to what it claimed was a high number of Jews among top Czech officials. The study also warns of an increasing number of anti-Semitic attacks in some EU countries, including the UK which last year registered a steep rise of 69 percent.
Czech President Václav Klaus has blamed aggressive political campaign ahead of May’s general election on what he called a bad electoral law and sensationalist media. Speaking to secondary school students in Brno on Monday, Mr Klaus said that regularly televised election debates of political leaders were unique to the Czech Republic, as only top political leaders meet for high-profile debates in other countries. The Czech president also criticized the country’s legislation which in his view allows post-election stalemates. Mr Klaus also lashed out against what he called “media pop-culture” interfering with campaigning.
The Czech Republic will receive some 722 million crowns, or nearly 40 million US dollars, from EU funds to improve the education of Czech health care workers, Health Minister Dana Jurásková said on Monday. The funds will pay for the education of some 39,000 doctors, nurses and other medical staff, the minister added. The ministry will now determine the details of the project and organize individual courses that will be launched in May and finish in April 2013. The ministry also welcomed the fact that it will be able to use the funds to pay the doctors and other health workers attending the courses who until now had to cover much of the expenses themselves.
In the first three months of this year, 68 people died on Czech railroads, which is the worst figure in four years, Czech Railways inspection said on Monday. The highest number of fatal accidents, as well as the steepest increase, was registered on railway crossings where 15 people died in the first quarter of 2009, a dramatic rise of 650 percent compared to 2007. The Transport Ministry said that together with the police and Czech Railways, it would inspect all railway crossings in the country.
Jiří Perners, the new head of the Institute for the Study of
Totalitarian Regimes, has rejected concerns about the institute’s future
voiced by critics who opposed his appointment. Mr Pernes told a news
conference on Monday he had offered several Czech and foreign public
figures to join the institute’s council of experts. The new director
said the institute would publish around 14 million digitalized documents
from the country’s communist period on its website by the end of the
Mr Pernes, who earlier this month became the institute’s new director, has been facing criticism over his past, including his studies at the communist academy of Marxism and Leninism. Three members of the institute’s council of experts quit in protest of his appointment.
The two planned blocks of the Temelín nuclear power plant should be
independent of the existing ones, the Czech energy giant ČEZ said in a
statement on Monday. The plant will have the two existing,
reactors VVER-1000 working alongside the new reactors that will however
rely on the same supplies of energy and water.
The Czech energy producer ČEZ announced plans last year to build two new blocks at its Temelín plant. According to the firm’s management, an independent functioning of the reactor blocks meets the requirements of all three competitors for the plant’s completion – the French firm Areva, Russia’s Atomstroyexport and Westinghouse from the United States. Historically the biggest ever Czech public contract, worth around 500 billion crowns, or nearly 27 billion US dollars, should be awarded by the end of next year.