- Russian officials have accused the Czech Republic and other NATO countries of destabilizing the situation in the Caucasus.
- German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has said Germany supports positioning of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic.
- Interior Minister Ivan Langer has complained about German and Austrian traffic police targeting Czech drivers.
Russia accuses NATO countries of increasing tension in Caucasus
Russian officials have accused the Czech Republic and other NATO countries of destabilizing the situation in the Caucasus, the AFP news agency reported on Thursday. The Russian Defence Ministry said that the United States, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic were increasing tension in the region by shipping weapons to Georgia. The country is in a dispute with Russia over the separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which rely on Russian support.
Germany supports positioning of U.S. radar on Czech soil
German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has said that Germany supports positioning of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic. During a meeting with his Czech counterpart Vlasta Parkanová in Prague on Thursday, Mr Jung also said his country believed that the anti-missile shield should be part of the NATO defence system. The Czech Republic is set to sign an agreement with the United States on hosting the base while polls have repeatedly suggested that the most Czechs are against it.
Interior Minister complains about German and Austrian police traffic police
Interior Minister Ivan Langer complained on Wednesday about German and Austrian traffic police targeting Czech drivers at road checks. After the Czech Republic joined the Schengen zone of free travel, Austrian and German police reportedly started targeting Czech drivers in their border areas, subjecting them to thorough inspections. In his reaction, Austrian Interior Minister Gunther Platter said on Thursday that any security measures were Austria’s internal issue, and that these road checks would continue.
In related news, the Austrian government will temporarily reinstate border controls during the European Football Championship to be held in Austria and Switzerland this summer. Austrian authorities said that between June 2 and July 1, they would focus on potential football hooligans as well as illegal immigrants crossing Austrian borders.
PM Topolánek visits Colombia
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota on Thursday on the first leg of his South American tour. The two sides signed two trade agreements that should boost trade and make it easier for Czech companies to enter the Colombian market. Mr Topolánek discussed a possible sale of Czech L-159 aircraft to the Colombian army. The Czech Prime Minister then met with the chairperson of the Colombian Senate Patricia Gutierrez before leaving for Peru where he will attend a summit of Latin American and EU countries.
GDP growth slows down in Q1
Growth of the Czech GDP slowed down to 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2008, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Thursday. Analysts predicted a slightly higher figure but faster growth has been impeded by price-rises. Czech foreign trade also slowed down in the first three months of 2008 but higher productivity and a lower unemployment rate contributed to the growth of the Czech economy this year.
Škoda to supply cars to Czech police
The German-owned Czech-based car producer Škoda Auto has won a bid to supply new cars to the Czech police force, the police presidium said on Thursday. The other contenders – Germany’s Volkswagen and French Renault – offered higher prices than the winning Škoda which will supply the police with 3,500 new cars for 1.1 billion crowns, or almost 68 million U.S. dollars. The bid also included a contract for 14 service points for the new police vehicles.
Neo-Nazi bestseller published in Prague
The Turner Diaries, a novel considered to be a major source of inspiration to the U.S. neo-Nazi movement, has been published in Prague, making the Czech Republic the only other country, besides the United States, where the book was published legally. The 1978 novel, written by a former U.S. white supremacy activist, describes a violent overthrow of the American government. The Czech police have not taken any steps against the publisher of the Czech translation of the Turner Diaries.
Brno honours physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach
The Moravian city of Brno is holding a three-day scientific conference to commemorate the physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, who was born in the close vicinity of the city in 1838. The Brno Days of Ernst Mach start on Thursday with a workshop, held by the Faculty of Sciences of Masaryk University and will conclude on Saturday with the unveiling of a memorial to the distinguished scholar in his native community.
Baby twins lost and found
Six-week-old twins went missing in Olomouc, central Moravia, on Wednesday evening after their mother let a 13-year-old girl she barely knew mind them. The girl, who promised to take them round the block in their pram, took them instead to her home in another part of the city. The Olomouc police only took some 3.5 hours to find the missing twins. The babies appear unharmed but have been admitted to hospital for observation. It is not clear what motivated the girl’s actions.
Czechs knocked out of World Ice Hockey Championships’ quarter-finals
The Czech Republic has been knocked out of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Quebec, after losing 3:2 to Sweden in overtime on Wednesday. The Czechs were leading 2:1 and were just four minutes from advancing to the semi-finals when Sweden equalised to make it 2:2 in regular time. It is the second year in a row that the Czech Republic has exited the World Championships in the quarter-finals. Coach Alois Hadamczik announced he was stepping down after Wednesday’s defeat.
Šírl wins UEFA Cup with Zenit St Petersburg
Radek Šírl has become the fifth Czech football player to win the UEFA Cup. His Zenit St Petersburg beat Glasgow Rangers 2:0 in Wednesday’s final in Manchester. The former Bohemians midfielder was widely praised for a superb tackle which denied Rangers a chance to score in the first half. Šírl has been with the Russian club for five years.
The end of the week will see cloudy skies over Bohemia and Moravia with some rain showers and occasional storms. Highest day temperatures should reach 22 degrees Celsius.