The head of NATO’s Military Committee, the alliance’s top military decision making organ, will visit Prague at the end of the week. General Gianpaolo Di Paola is scheduled to meet with the head of the Czech general staff, Vlastimil Picek, on Thursday. The main point is likely to be Czech participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The former Czech government promised to increase its contribution but was prevented from doing this by opposition in the lower house of parliament. Meetings are also due to take place with President Václav Klaus and the minister of defence.
The head of the Public Affairs party Radek John said on Sunday that an internet referendum of party members on the three-way coalition agreement was proceeding without hitches. Voting on the programme for a centre-right government together with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 was postponed on Friday following a technical problem with the server. It was resumed on Saturday. Mr. John said that a flash survey of the membership indicated that more than 10 percent had voted. That was the threshold set for the referendum to be valid. The referendum, in which around 17,000 members can take part, should end at 10 am on Monday with the results known the same day. All three parties should give their final verdict on the coalition agreement by the end of Monday.
The 18th four day music festival at Boskovice, between Olomouc and Brno, drew to a close on Sunday. Organiser, Unijazz, estimates around 4,000 people attended the mix of musical and cultural events and exhibitions. The festival was originally held to help draw attention and restore the old Jewish quarter of the town, a task which has now been largely completed. This year’s festival featured the reading by writer Radka Denemarková of her book “Money From Hitler, ” which recounts the attempt by a woman who returns from a Nazi concentration camp to get justice.
This year’s Karlovy Vary festival attracted fewer visitors and fewer films were screened than in 2009. The total number of visitors was just under 127,000, that is a drop of around 5,000 compared with a year ago. The number of films screened was 207. This compares with the 232 full length films and documentaries screened in 2009. Organisers said the drop in the number of new films screened had allowed them to repeat some favourites.
Incoming interior minister Radek John said on Sunday that he could sack the country’s top policeman. Mr. John, the head of the Public Affairs party, said that the president of the police presidium, Oldřich Martinů, could be dismissed, adding this would be a logical step. He has said that one of the problems he had with the police was its inability to save money. He added that there were more police per head of population in the Czech Republic than anywhere else in Europe but they were not visible on the street. Mr. John said he would prepare a thorough reform once he arrived in office and this would include changes in personnel. Mr. Martinů has been in the top post for the last three years.
Two people drowned on Saturday as many people sought relief in pools, lakes and rivers from record temperatures. A 22-year-old man drowned in a lake near the central Bohemian town of Brandýs nad Labem. He is thought to have to have got into difficulties when trying to rescue a child who fell from their inflatable. His body has still not been recovered. A woman was found drowned at the family pool at the town of Zadní Třeban in central Bohemia.
Spanish director Agusti Vila's film "The Mosquito Net" won the
main prize at the 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on
A jury led by US producer Ron Yerxa picked Vila's film featuring Geraldine
Chaplin in a silent role as the Grand Prix-Crystal Globe winner out of the
12 movies in the competition. The film recounts the story of members of a
rich family, plagued by guilt, who have problems communicating with each
“Kooky” by Oscar-winning Czech director Jan Svěrák earned the Special Jury Prize. A German, French, Swiss and Romanian co-production 'Aurora' by Romanian director Cristi Puiu won the East of the West section, Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov and Slovak director Juraj Herz were presented with Crystal Globes for their outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.
The leader of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia Vojtěch Filip described Public Affairs’ referendum as a marketing trick and not an example of direct democracy. Speaking on the same Czech Television programme as Radek John, Mr. Filip said the coalition programme appeared like a manifesto of business interests, adding it was 99 percent certain that his party would vote against the coalition government when it seeks a vote of confidence in the lower house. President Václav Klaus is due to appoint the government on July 13, setting a 30-day deadline for it to win a vote of confidence.
The Czech Republic has secured a place in the Davis cup semifinals after taking a 3: 0 lead against Chile on Saturday. Jan Hájek and Lukáš Dlouhý got the all important third point in the doubles against Nicolas Massu and Jorge Aguilar. The score was 7:6, 6:3, 3:6, 6:3. Ivo Minář and Hájek earlier won their opening singles. The Czech squad was dubbed a ‘B’ team given the absence of top singles players Tomáš Berdych and Radek Štěpánek. The Czechs are now set up in September to play Serbia which won its tie against Croatia.
The head of the Czech branch of the corruption fighting organisation Transparency International said he remained to be convinced about many aspects of the incoming government’s anti-corruption programme. Director David Ondráčka said on Sunday during a tv debate that he was surprised some of the 17-points to deal with corruption were there at all and were priorities. He added that all governments came in with big proclamations and intentions about corruption but these later evaporated. The coalition government programme calls for a new law on lobbying, more vigorous checks on the assets of public officials, stricter penalties for proven cases of corruption, and for major tenders to be entirely public and on-line.
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