Pope Benedict XVI will not speak in his native German during a visit to
the Czech Republic in September, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on
Monday citing sources from Czech organizers. The Pope’s advisors asked
him not to do so because of the problematic historical associations with
the language. Unlike his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict XVI cannot
speak Czech and will therefore speak English most of the time. The Pope
will also deliver sermons in Italian which will be consecutively
interpreted into Czech. The daily said that only the Czech president,
Václav Klaus, insisted German is used during a formal meeting with the
Pope at Prague Castle.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church will visit the Czech Republic for three days in September. He will be the first incumbent pope to honour St Wenceslas, the Czech patron saint. Benedict XVI will also pay tribute to the Baby Jesus statue in Prague and celebrate mass at Brno airport.
The town of Litvínov, northern Bohemia, wants to prevent Romanies from simultaneously obtaining social benefits in the Czech Republic and in the UK. The town’s deputy mayor, Martin Klika, said on Monday some Romany families applied for social benefits in Great Britain but regularly return to collect Czech benefits as well. Town officials are planning to contact their colleagues in Britain to find out about how many people might be abusing the welfare system.
Three Czech fans joined the band U2 on stage in Berlin on Sunday to play one of the band’s hit songs, Angel of Harlem. The fans, members of a U2 tribute band, held up signs during the show specifying their musical skills and the name of the song. Some six songs into the concert, U2 singer Bono asked them to come on stage, play his guitar and assist Larry Mullen on drums.
Civic Democrat MP Jan Burgermeister made some 460,000 crowns, or more than 25,000 US dollars, last year for being on the Czech Airlines’ board of directors, the news website ihned.cz reported on Monday. However, Czech MPs are prohibited by law to receive salaries for being on boards of state-owned firms; the Czech state owns some 90 percent of Czech Airlines. Mr Burgermeister has refused to return the funds, pointing out that he only represented the city of Prague in the Czech national carrier.
The Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office has released its annual report, in which it states that the rate of criminality in the Czech Republic has not changed over the long-term, though there have been changes in the rates of particular crimes and the participation of foreigners. The report states for example that murder investigations are declining, down to 177 from 280 in 1999. Increases have been noted elsewhere however, for example in economic crimes such as customs and tax fraud. New trends have also been seen in human trafficking in the Czech Republic, particularly involving forced labour and prostitution. The Public Prosecutor’s Office also stated it could not rule out a coming rise in criminality as a result of the global economic crisis.
More than half of the holidaymakers stranded abroad by the sudden closure of the travel agency Tomi Tour have been returned to the Czech Republic. According to Tomi Tour’s insurance company, Union pojišťovna, 500 have been bussed home from Italy and Croatia, while Czech Airlines has secured the return of 1,200 from the Canary Islands, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. One of the largest travel agencies in the Czech Republic, Tomi Tour declared bankruptcy Friday evening, literally marooning some 3,200 of its clients on holiday outside the Czech Republic. It is the third travel agency in the Czech Republic to declare bankruptcy this summer. According to the Association of Czech Travel Agencies, its closure marks the industry’s most serious case of insolvency in the last 12 years.
The government is to discuss a new regional development plan on Monday that reportedly includes controversial plans for the Czech Republic’s nuclear power plants. The news servers Aktualne.cz and Deník.cz reported that in addition to proposing the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, the development plan also insinuates the construction of a third nuclear fission plant in North Moravia. Ecologists and civic organisations have bristled at the plan, which they say is ecologically and financially unsound, and should at least be left to an elected, rather than caretaker, government.
The former leader of the Green Party and environment minister, Martin Bursík, has confirmed he does not intend to return to politics. Defying expectations he would be announce his candidacy in autumn elections on Sunday, Mr Bursík instead announced he plans to devote himself to environmental issues outside of politics. In Mr Bursík’s absence, a convention of the Green Party in Prague nominated councilman Petr Štěpánek to top the ballot for the city in the October poll. After five years as Green Party chairman, Mr Bursík resigned the position in June this year after the party’s poor showing in elections to the European Parliament.
Lightning storms and bouts of torrential rain over the weekend caused isolated calamities around the Czech Republic, however no extensive flooding has been reported. In the Moravian region of Šumperk a young man was killed when a group of four tourists was struck by lightening. In the northern Bohemian region of Ústí nad Labem flash floods swept away part of a road and a small bridge; firemen reported 81 calls in the region, where waterways rose by up to a meter. In Slovakia the country’s main summer music festival ended in tragedy on Saturday when high winds brought down the four-tonne main festival tent. Hundreds of spectators were attending a concert in the tent when it collapsed, killing one man and injuring more than 50, including at least two Czechs.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Wide range of events in store for Czechs this weekend as 30-year anniversary of Velvet Revolution reaches climax
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary
15 years later – was ending military service right move for Czech Republic?