Most Czechs are not interested in the upcoming Czech presidency of the European Union, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. Most people said they didn’t have enough information on the Czech EU presidency and only 24 percent of respondents said they were interested in the issue. The Czech Republic will assume the presidency of the European Union in January 2009. The motto of the Czech presidency is ‘Europe without barriers’ marking 20 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain and five years since the enlargement of the European Union.
Meteorologists have warned of the risk of local flooding in the north of the country after days of heavy rain and with more showers predicted over the next couple of days. Weather forecasters say that the flood alert could last until Wednesday morning. Up to 30 millimetres of rain are expected to fall in the next two days.
Czech secondary schools launched their school leaving exams on Monday for nearly 100 000 students this year. A new unified state exam was to be introduced this year but deputies agreed to postpone the date as preparations have been slow. Under current legislation, each secondary school drafts its own school-leaving test. This has come under much criticism as some tests are harder than others.
The Czech military police who have been monitoring the ongoing Greenpeace protests in the Brdy military area against the US radar base which is to be stationed there will apply stricter measures against tourists entering the area. More and more tourists enter the zone without permission, often ending up at the military grounds prohibited for civilians. A person violating the ban of entry without a permit can face a fine of up to 3,000 crowns. Two weeks ago, around 20 Greenpeace activists set up a camp in a clearing called Site 718, the spot chosen by officials from the U.S. Missile Defence Agency for the radar facility.
Czech retail sales in March decreased by 2.1 percent on the year after more than four years of continuous growth, the Czech Statistical office announced on Monday. The figure was affected by a lower number of working days and colder weather. A year-on-year decline in sales was recorded both for foodstuffs and other goods.
An accident in which a freight train ploughed into a stationary passenger train early on Monday morning has left one person dead and five others injured. The cause of the accident is still being investigated, but preliminary findings suggest technical failure is to blame. The accident occurred in Pardubice region in east Bohemia.
Teachers are going ahead with plans for a one day strike on June 9th despite Education Minister Ondřej Liška’s promise of more money from the state budget. The minister said on Monday that the government would earmark an extra 500 million crowns for teacher’s wages this year, adding that this was the absolute maximum teachers can get. However, the teachers' trade unions have demanded an extra 3 billion this year to counteract inflation. According to the unions, more than half of the country's 200,000 teachers are in favour of striking, and are ready to close down nursery, primary and secondary schools.
A still-life by French painter Georges Braque called The Green Basin (1942) was sold in auction in Prague on Sunday for 11.5 million crowns (the equivalent of around 716,000 US dollars). The price is the 5th highest ever paid for a work of art in a Czech auction house. The record belongs to Elevation, a work by Czech painter Frantíšek Kupka, which sold for 22.1 million crowns in October.