The minister of industry and trade in the current caretaker cabinet, Vladimír Tošovský, says if a strong government is formed it should overturn current limits on coal mining. Speaking at a conference on mining in Plzeň, he said the leaders of the three parties in the frame to make up the next government had previously displayed an unwillingness to address the matter. Nevertheless, Mr Tošovský said, the time is right for such a change. Ending limits on mining is one element of an energy plan that should be considered by the Czech government in September. The limits were imposed in 1991, guaranteeing municipalities near Most in north Bohemia that they would not be razed to allow the mining of the coal that lies beneath them.
Architect Jakub Cígler has won a tender to rebuild part of the Industrial Palace at Prague’s Výstaviště trade fair grounds. One wing of the building was destroyed by fire in October 2008. Mr Cígler’s studio Cígler Marani Architects secured the contract after promising to reconstruct it using technology similar to that employed when it was built in the late 19th century. His design had already been chosen by a selection commission before Prague City Hall announced on Tuesday that he had won.
The Czech military intelligence service also said it had detected the activity of its Chinese equivalent in the Czech Republic last year. It said the greatest danger from China’s agents was in the area of industrial espionage. Czech and NATO security interests as well as the Czech arms industry were all threatened by the spying activities of the Chinese, it said. The Czech military intelligence pointed to China’s interest in advanced military technology in a previous report on 2008. Elsewhere in the report for 2009, which was posted on its website on Tuesday, it said terrorism remained a threat to the Czech Republic.
Petr Necaš has confirmed that he will stand for chairman of the Civic Democrats at a party congress on the third weekend of this month. He has been acting head of the party since Mirek Topolánek stepped down in April after seven years in the post; he had come under pressure over remarks he made about government members and minorities. If Mr Necaš is elected, the former labour minister will be the third chairman of the Civic Democrats, after founder Václav Klaus and Mr Topolánek.
There has been a marked slowdown in the construction of large shopping centres in the Czech Republic, market specialists Cushman and Wakefield said. Eight new shopping centres should go into operation by the end this year; a year ago developers said they were planning to open twice that number in 2010. A representative of Cushman and Wakefield said that whereas previously building would begin when leases had been signed on 50 to 60 percent of a projected centre, now developers require at least 70 percent before they start construction.
The number of Czech soldiers with connections to far right groups fell in 2009, according to an annual report issued by the country’s military intelligence service. It said it was monitoring a few dozen members of the country’s military it suspected of links to such organisations. Last year two Czech soldiers in Afghanistan were caught wearing Nazi symbols on their helmets. Another soldier was found to have helped establish a racist group called White Justice. The new report said more potential extremists were being weeded out at the recruitment stage, while greater vigilance on the part of army authorities was leading to soldiers with far-right beliefs travelling long distances from their bases to attend neo-Nazi rock concerts and other such gatherings during their free time.
Talks on forming a new centre-right government of the Civic Democrats, TOP
09 and Public Affairs have run into complications. The latter party are
saying if they cannot reach a coalition deal with the others, they could
support a minority Civic Democrat-TOP 09 government. Public Affairs leader
Radek John said this could happen if certain promises were secured,
including a pledge to fight corruption. Civic Democrats leader and
future prime minister Petr Necaš said, however, that he would prefer to
see a standard coalition. He described Public Affairs’ statements as a
The inexperienced Public Affairs got 11 percent in their first general elections, and would be the smallest party in a possible coalition with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09. Mr John on Tuesday denied that his party were demanding that Vít Bárta become interior minister. Mr Bárta is one of the party’s main financial backers and managed their election campaign. He has said he would quit his post in a security firm he co-owns before becoming an MP.
The Social Democrats came first in elections last weekend, but are unlikely to find coalition partners. The Civic Democrats came second, losing significant ground, in particular to TOP 09, another new party which gained 17 percent support. Mr Necaš has spoken of forming a cabinet of fiscal responsibility ready to reign in the country’s record budget deficit.
President Václav Klaus has not yet indicated whether he will follow the tradition of allowing the leader of the party that won the most votes the first shot at forming a cabinet.
The Czech Republic’s elite ice hockey league the Extraliga is in danger of losing its main sponsor, mobile phone operator Telefonica O2, Hospodářské noviny reported. The newspaper said the company was not planning to renew its contract with the league after three seasons of co-operation. Telefonica O2 has been offering live Extraliga games as part of its digital television services, but interest has reportedly been low.
Four Czech journalists who were on board a ship in a flotilla stormed by Israeli forces on Sunday night were unharmed, the Czech consul in Tel Aviv Dušan Králík said. The four were reported to include two Czech Television journalists, a filmmaker and a freelance reporter. Mr Králík said they would be deported from Israel. The ships were carrying aid to Gaza, breaking a blockade imposed by Israel after Hamas took power there in 2007. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the raids, which left at least 10 civilians dead.
In an interview with Monday’s edition of Lidové noviny, President Václav Klaus described the election results as a political earthquake that had not left one stone standing upon another. He highlighted the sharp drop in support for the two main parties blaming this on the protracted stalemate after the previous tied elections in 2006, the association of previous Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek with top business leaders, political behaviour of former Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek and demonization of politicians by the media. The president said that there were still big questions about the two new breakthrough parties, TOP 09 and Public Affairs, and how they would behave.
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Former US ambassador to Prague, William Luers, on what it was like to serve in Communist Czechoslovakia