The government on Wednesday also approved a Defence Ministry proposal on foreign missions until the year 2013. The number of soldiers in Afghanistan is to increase to 720 next year before being reduced to 640 in 2012. The majority of the force will be committed to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the province of Logar. Meanwhile, forces in Kosovo will be gradually reduced with the option of returning them in case of need. Czech pilots will return to guarding the airspace of the Baltic states by 2012. Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra said that two billion crowns should cover the missions for next year.
The Liberec "White Tigers" hockey team faced off against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday evening in a friendly match at home. The Czechs lost the match 7 to 1, with four of the goals scored within four minutes in the third quarter. The Bruins will be staying in the Czech Republic to play the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague’s O2 Arena in a meeting that will mark the beginning of the new NFL season championship.
The Czech Dental Chamber says that a third of Czech children between the ages of two and six let have a higher rate of tooth decay than the European average due in part to a lack of paediatric dentists. The chamber says that out of 6500 dentists in the Czech Republic only 63 focus on children and that most children therefore visit standard dentists. Dentists, it says, are concerned about losing money because they have more work with children.
The opposition Social Democrats would win Czech general elections ahead of the senior ruling Civic Democrats if elections were held in September, a SANEP internet poll suggests. The centre-right government coalition would however maintain a majority in the lower house. The government parties (the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs) would lose nine mandates in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, but would still have a majority of 109 votes. Neither the Christian Democrats, who left the lower house for the first time in the Czech Republic´s history after the May elections, nor the Greens would enter parliament, according to the poll.
The government has approved a proposal to decrease the salaries of state officials by five percent. The cuts affect the salaries of parliament deputies, ministers, and state prosecutors until 2014; the salaries of judges will be decreased only for 2011. The basic salaries of parliament deputies and senators should be roughly 52,000 crowns per month while the basic pay for ministers will drop to 107.000 crowns. Judges and prosecutors are protesting the cut. The Czech Constitutional Court recently overturned a four-percent reduction in the salaries of judges in the Czech Republic citing a previous verdict which declared that the salaries of judges had to be stable and could not be cut.
The regional council of South Moravia has cancelled a restraining order blocking the relocation of Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic to Prague. The town hall of Moravský Krumlov had filed the order at the behest of the painter’s grandson John Mucha, who contends that the ownership of the Art Nouveau masterpiece is unclear. A South Moravian court ruled last week that the 20 canvasses must be turned over to the City of Prague. Mucha’s will bestows the paintings to the City of Prague, though only on the condition that a special pavilion is created for them. However, no such venue was ever built.
Members of the European Parliament for the Social Democratic Party sharply criticised President Vaclav Klaus on Monday, saying his critical views of EU financial supervision and global governance are harmful to the Czech Republic. Speaking ahead of an EU-Asia summit on Monday, Mr Klaus called the stricter financial supervision in the EU the road to perdition and rejected the possibility of global governance. In a press release, the MEPs said that the president could not do a better job of harming the Czech Republic if that was his intention and was merely trying to gain leadership among the Eurosceptics at the summit. The EU-Asia summit was attended by representatives of over 40 European and Asian countries and discussed possibilities for better administrating public affairs.
The government has cancelled plans to complete a motorway connection with Austria via the South Moravian town of Břeclav. In place of the planned R55, four-lane motorway the Ministry of Transport now envisions a two-lane main road bypass around Břeclav that would cost 1.6 billion crowns. The region of South Moravia welcomed the cancellation of the project, which was first planned in 2008, and hopes it will contribute to the completion of the R52 motorway to Vienna via Mikulov, which has been planned for decades.
The first gluten-free Czech beer for people who suffer from coeliac disease is set to go on the domestic market. The beer was developed by specialists from the Research Institute of Brewing and Malting in Prague and will be licensed for production by the Žatecký brewery. Gluten-free has been available on the Czech market before, but was expensive and tasted differently than classic Czech beer. Estimates put the number of coeliac sufferers in the Czech Republic at one to two percent of the population, or at least 100,000 people.
The Czech branch of the Salvation Army says that homelessness in the Czech Republic has climbed significantly in the last year. A spokesman for the church told the press on Wednesday that according to its estimates, the situation had worsened particularly in Prague, where it believes homelessness increased by a forth in the first half of 2010. Every fourth or fifth family it said was indebted. The Salvation Army is celebrating twenty years since it renewed its operations in the Czech Republic, where it was previously active from 1919 to 1950. It currently works in nine cities in the country.