Deputy transport minister Jiří Hodač has been named the winner of the
2007 “Ropák" or Oil Guzzler, awarded for the worst environmental
policies. Winners of the anti-award are chosen each year by Czech
environmentalists Děti Země. Mr Hodač was chosen for supposedly
threatening to sue a number of civic associations in a dispute last year.
The award is named after a fictional creature that lives off of industrial
waste; it was invented by director Jan Svěrák in a mock-documentary.
Another to receive an anti-prize on Friday was President Václav Klaus. He was named as this year’s holder of the Green Pearl – given for worst environment-related statement in the media. The president, well-known for scepticism on the issue of global warming, questioned ecological devastation on the planet by reportedly telling Hospodárské noviny he’d “never seen any in [his] life”.
Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkánová and her Slovak counterpart Jaroslav Baška signed an agreement on Friday towards founding a joint military unit - one of the biggest joint defence projects since Czechoslovakia's Velvet Divorce in 1993. The unit will start operating in 2009 and will be made up of 1,500 soldiers, the ministers told journalists after a Visegrad Four meeting on Friday with Ukraine. Of that, 300 soldiers and 100-member strong support team will be Slovak nationals. EU members pledged back in 2004 to form 13 battlegroups to be on alert for defence missions, with soldiers being ready for deployment to emergency areas ten days after a decision is taken. The Czech Republic is to provide a mechanised battalion, artillery systems and combat helicopters.
The police have arrested a man suspected of having stolen over 300 bronze name plates from the Terezín national cemetery. The plates bearing the names of wartime victims were ripped off gravestones sometime last week and were later found to have been sold as scrap metal. The incident has aroused widespread condemnation since the cemetery in Terezín, north of Prague, is a national memorial site. Terezín served as a ghetto for Czech and European Jews and housed a Gestapo-run prison during the Second World War.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the most popular foreign statesman in the Czech Republic, according to a poll conducted by the polling agency STEM. Angela Merkel is followed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. On the other hand, presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin often evoke strong negative emotions. They are disliked by 56 and 65 percent of Czechs respectively.
Two American physicists, who are missile defense critics, have dismissed as near-useless a US radar system that Washington wants to site in the Czech Republic. George Lewis of Cornell University and Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claim that the Raytheon radar system has such limited range that it couldn’t possibly play any useful role in European missile defense. The physicists published their claims in the May/June Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, asserting that Washington had “oversold” the radar, possibly to commit the US to a course that would later be hard to reverse. Meanwhile, Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, dismissed their criticism as unfounded, saying the radar had more than enough power for its defense role.
The Czech Senate on Thursday asked the Constitutional Court to examine whether the Lisbon Treaty is in harmony with the Czech constitutional order. The proposal was initiated by the ruling Civic Democratic Party, which has a majority in the Senate, and approved by 48 of 70 senators present. Senators for the opposition Social Democratic party tried in vain to have the treaty ratified without further delay. Critics from the opposition claim that the Civic Democrats are intentionally trying to delay the treaty’s ratification in view of the country’s upcoming EU presidency. The Lisbon Treaty would fundamentally alter the way the EU is run, reducing the influence of the presiding country. The Czech Republic is to take up the rotating EU presidency in 2009.
The Czech Republic has been given a wild card entry to become the eighth team to take part in the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf from May 18-24. The Czech Republic will be represented by Tomáš Berdych and Jiří Vaněk and will be joined by the United States, Spain, Russia, Argentina, Germany, Italy and Sweden who qualified automatically under ATP rules. The 2007 event was won by Argentina, who beat the Czech Republic in the final.
The town of Přibyslav in the Czech-Moravian highlands on Wednesday turned down an Australian mining company’s call that it be allowed to launch exploration for reserves of uranium in return for a cash windfall. The company offered 800,000 crowns a year (46,000 US dollars) while exploration work was underway and 1.6 million crowns a year once commercial mining commenced. Uranium prices have soared in recent years due to a resurgence in nuclear power sparked by fears of fossil-fuel driven climate change.
Four Central and East European NATO members – the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - on Wednesday backed bids by Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO, taking a clear stand on an issue that has divided the alliance and angered Russia. Germany, France and several other NATO members say neither Georgia nor Ukraine are ready to join. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow might re-direct its missiles at Ukraine if it were to join NATO.
The Czech Republic’s injured captain Tomáš Rosický has announced an improvement to the knee problem which has cast a major doubt over his Euro 2008 participation. The Arsenal midfield star said on his website that the painful inflammation of his knee had receded but he still had to undergo rehabilitation. Rosický said he could assess his chances of full recovery better when he started training.
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