- Former Czech president Václav Klaus has told Czech Radio he is not intending to run for a seat in the European Parliament.
- Doctors will be required to screen patients they suspect of alcoholism, according to novinky.cz
- An explosion from a possible gas leak destroyed part of a residential building in Havířov in the early hours of Sunday.
Klaus rules out running for MEP seat
Former Czech president Václav Klaus has ruled out a candidacy to the European Parliament, telling Czech Radio's flagship Radiožurnál on Sunday that recent speculation in both the domestic and international media had been unfounded. The former head-of-state, a well-known euro skeptic, last week published a manifesto in which he charged that EU leaders were striving for a superstate that - in his view - would threaten histories of individual countries and as well as democracy. Mr Klaus recently came close to launching a political comeback on the Czech political scene but turned down the opportunity at the last minute on the grounds there wasn't enough time to build a new party ahead of early elections.
Dalai Lama receives standing ovation
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a personal friend of the late Václav Havel, spoke in Prague on Saturday to an audience of several hundred people, giving a lecture on the importance of compassion and respect. His arrival was welcomed by a standing ovation and during his speech he mentioned Mr Havel several times. The talk was punctuated with laughter, to which the audience reacted with applause. Mid-way, time was made for a question period for members of the audience. The Dalai Lama was invited to Prague by organisers of the Forum 2000 conference, this year focussing on societies in transition.
The 17th Forum 2000 officially opens on Sunday. More than 100 personalities from all over the world are expected to attend, including Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize holder, and former South African president Frederik de Klerk, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Finance minister: deficit could be 112 billion
Next year's state budget deficit could reach 112 billion crowns outgoing Finance Minister Jan Fischer said Sunday on public broadcaster Czech TV. Originally, the interim government had counted on a deficit of two billion less. The finance minister stressed that essential for him was that the number did not exceed three percent of GDP. The government is still to debate the budget proposal; the tripartite, with union, government, and business representatives will also meet to discuss the budget on September 20.
FM: solar energy producers seeking damages of 3.3 billion
Speaking on the same programme, the finance minister said that the Czech Republic faces 40 lawsuits from solar energy producers over changes in support passed by MPs in 2010. Modifications passed then included the introduction of a 26 percent tax over three years. Solar energy producers are seeking damages amounting to 3.3 billion crowns. The finance ministry has taken a tough stance towards the claims.
Health Ministry takes aim at alcohol addiction
The country's Health Ministry has decided to take steps in combatting alcoholism after surveys suggested repeatedly that alcohol abuse in the country is high, writes news site noviny.cz. According to the website, doctors will now have to screen patients they suspect of alcoholism according to a method known as screening and brief intervention - referring those who abuse alcohol on to specialists. Deputy Health Minister Ferdinand Polák said the system had worked abroad and expressed the hope it would work in the Czech Republic. Specialists have suggested the system could help thousands each year, not least those just slipping into addiction.
Explosion rocks residential building
Two apartments in a residential building in Havířov were destroyed on Sunday in an explosion that may have resulted from a gas leak. Part of the building collapsed in the incident and 27 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Specialists with sniffer dogs confirmed no one was trapped or had died in the rubble.The police are not ruling out alternative causes behind the explosion. Experts are assessing the extent of the damage.
Jeseník nad Odrou named Village of the Year
Jeseník nad Odrou in the area of Novy Jičín has won the title of Village of the Year 2013. A total of 273 municipalities from 13 regions took part in this year's inception. The competition has been held annually for 19 years. Criteria taken into account in order to win the competition or place highly include excellent infrastructure, services, and overall layout and appearance.
Contrary to earlier forecasts, Prague enjoyed mild and sunny weather on Saturday with daytime highs of around 20 degrees Celsius. Cloudy conditions with rainfall are still forecast for Sunday.