Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Monday criticized the French authorities for failing to invite the Czech Republic, as well as a number of other EU member states, to a ministerial meeting in Paris that is to discuss the expulsion of Bulgarian and Romanian Romanies from France. The meeting is due next Monday when Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is scheduled to pay an official visit to Paris. Mr. Nečas said the selection of participants was a display of contempt and arrogance that does not further good relations among EU countries. Romania and Bulgaria, whom the problem directly concerns, have not been invited either. In an interview for Saturday’s daily Lidové noviny the Czech foreign minister criticized the ongoing expulsions. He said it was impossible not to suspect that a racist perspective played a role in the expulsions and added that they were contrary to the spirit and rules of the 27-strong European Union. He later softened his stand.
Thousands of rock fans were left disappointed by the one day festival Řipfest 2010 which culminated with an appearance by rock legend Ozzy Osbourne just before midnight on Saturday. Fans were disappointed that the Black Sabbath member only sang for around an hour instead of the expected 90 minutes. The appearance of former Uriah Heep member Ken Hensley was also cut short. Technical problems due to rain disrupted the programme. Osbourne was launching an 11-stop European tour at the Czech festival and also promoting his new album, Scream.
Police have stepped up controls on motorists to accompany an expected rush back home following holidays. Sunday is the last day of the traditional holiday period with heavy traffic expected. Police say checks will be carried out on motorists at 110 points across the country. In Prague, police have also called up a helicopter to help them stop congestion and pinpoint dangerous drivers. Around 155 people died on Czech roads during the holiday period according to initial figures.
Czech cyclist Jaroslav Kulhavý won the last of the series of world championship mountain bike events at Windham in the US becoming the first Czech to achieve such a success. Kulhavý was third in the overall championship rankings which were headed by Swiss cyclist Nino Schurter. The 25-year-old Czech was second in a world championship event last month, a few days after winning the European title.
In football, Czech defender Tomáš Ujfaluši has ruled out a return to the Czech national squad. In an interview with Sunday’s edition of the daily Sport he said that he would not return to play for his country. The prospect of Ujfaluši’s return in the autumn for European Championship qualifiers was raised in the week by Czech manager Michal Bílek. The 32-year-old defender retired from international football last year. This week he won the European super cup with Spanish team Atletico Madrid.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has estimated that between five and eight percent of state workers will leave their jobs due to proposed budget cuts next year. Cuts of 10 percent have been demanded in ministry budgets. The Prime Minister said there was a choice between across the board pay cuts of 10 percent or a 10 percent cut in employee numbers. He reckoned that most ministries would opt for a mix of the above but that there would be a bigger emphasis on job cuts. The 2011 budget will start to be debated in the lower house of parliament in October. The government programme calls for cuts across the public sector with the exception of teachers.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta has called for motorists’ fines to be
related to their ability to pay. Mr. Bárta has apparently been inspired
the systems in Switzerland and Finland where such wealth related penalties
exit. He says such fines could help stop Czech roads being a Wild West for
rich young drivers.
Although the police have welcomed the idea, it has been given a cool response from the two other government coalition parties, TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Sunday he was opposed to the idea. Fears have also been raised that such a step might be unconstitutional because it infringes the principle of equal treatment before the law. The minister wants to table his proposal by the end of the year.
Czech tennis player Květa Peschke and Slovak partner Katerina Srebotnik have won the New Hampshire double title. The pairing beat the US combination of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Meghann Shaughnessy 7:5, 6-0. The Czech-Slovak pairing saved a set point at 4:5 in the first set and then went on to win nine games in a row. It is the second major title for the pairing this year. The New Hampshire event is seen as a warm up for the US Open.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Sunday that he had submitted a demand for European Union authorities to give him fast track approval for a change in the rules for VAT charged on motor fuels. Mr. Kalousek said the state was currently losing around 8.0 billion crowns a year through fraud on VAT payments on such fuel. He wants petrol stations to be forced to include the tax on fuel sold. At the moment sales are subject to a chain of fraud.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas distanced himself on Sunday from reported
comments of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg about the French
expulsions of Roma or gypsies originally from Romania. Mr. Schwarzenberg
was reported by the Lidove noviny newspaper on Saturday to have said it
impossible not to suspect that a racist perspective played a role in the
ongoing expulsions. He also said the move was against the spirit and
position of the European Union.
The Czech Foreign Minister later told Czech Television that he said the actions gave an outward impression of racism but that he had not described them as racist.
Mr. Nečas said the comments were rash and that he saw no racist subtext in the expulsions which have been championed by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
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