Leaders of the junior coalition party TOP 09 said Tuesday that the coordination of EU affairs policy cannot be entrusted to a specially appointed state secretary because the coalition agreement allots that responsibility to the head of the government. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has planned to establish the post of state secretary for the EU soon, saying the depth of Czech-EU relations necessitates the post. In the view of TOP 09 chairman and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg however, the prime minister is responsible for the coordination of the country’s European policy, while the Foreign Ministry is responsible for its implementation. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, who has clashed with the PM on other matter in recent weeks, also said that the powers of the prime minister could not be performed by an appointed official. Mr Nečas called the remarks a sign of pre-election uneasiness.
A new poll conducted by the agency Factum Invenio suggests different parliamentary election results for the parties TOP 09 and Public Affairs in the vote were held today. While the poll showed roughly similar results to those attained by the Social Democratic (-1.3%) and Civic Democratic (-0.1%) parties in May, TOP 09 received 19.6% of the mock election result, an improvement of some 3 points, while Public Affairs’ popularity dwindled by 3% to 7.9. The communist vote also increased to 13.4% of the vote. No other parties exceeded 3%.
The Regional Court in Brno has upheld a not guilty verdict for a local man facing up to five years imprisonment for poaching. Josef Konečný was dubbed the “King of Poachers” by the media after police found over 1,300 deer trophies worth roughly ten million crowns in his home in 2005. He was acquitted by a district court on lack of evidence however, pleading that he had collected rather than hunted the trophies; the District Court upheld that verdict on Tuesday. Mr Konečný’s collection was first discovered after an incident five years ago when he fired gunshots in the street with an illegal homemade weapon. For comparison, one of the largest collections of antlers in the Czech Republic, at the Moravian chateau in Kunštát, consists of 200 sets of antlers.
The director of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Václav Kasík, has tendered his resignation to the Ministry of Culture. The resignation follows months of disputes with the orchestra’s artistic council, which objects to Mr Kasík having been appointed in May without an official competition being held for the post. Václav Kasík headed Czech Radio for ten years until he was dismissed in 2009 and was brought in to run the orchestra when the previous director was dismissed for poor economic management. Minister of Culture Jiří Besser accepted the resignation on Tuesday and announced a competition for the open position and also for the directorship of the National Technical Museum. That institution has also seen several changes of management in recent weeks based on allegations of corruption.
The thirty-year-old Czech who was injured in Monday’s shooting incident in Bratislava was operated on and is reported to be in serious, but stable condition. Police have not disclosed his identity. He was one of 15 people injured in a shooting spree when a man armed with an assault rifle went on a rampage in the Slovak capital Bratislava, killing six members of a Roma family and two others who happened to cross his path. Thirteen people are in hospital, one of them in critical condition. The shooter, who committed suicide after the attack, is reported to have had frequent disputes with the local Roma community.
A man who was caught on camera burgling the Army General Staff building in July has been charged with attempted robbery and wilful damage to property. If convicted he will face up to two years in prison. Police were notified of the man’s identity by his wife, who recognised him on televised security camera footage. While some media at the time of the burglary suspected the involvement of foreign spies, nothing was stolen from the building and only several doors were damaged. The incident resulted in the Military Police reassuming the task of monitoring the building.
Meanwhile, meteorologists have declared a state of high alert in the region of Moravia-Silesia as persistent rain raises river levels; lower warning levels are in effect for the regions of Zlín, Liberec and Ústí nad Labem. Up to 120 mm of precipitation is expected in the Beskydy Mountains in the far east of the Czech Republic, where a level-one flood warning is in effect on the Lučina River. Engineers opened the floodgates on all dams in the region on Monday to reduce waterway levels. Weathermen also warn of strong winds throughout Moravia.
This year’s Forum 2000 debate will be attended by Cuban dissident José Luis García Paneque and Iranian lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, the organisers have announced. Opposition activist García Paneque was released from prison this summer after seven years in prison, 17 months of which he spent in solitary confinement. He accepted an offer of asylum in Spain in July. Ms Ebadi will be visiting the forum for the second time; she first came to the Czech capital in 1997. The conference, now in its 14th year under the auspices of ex-president Václav Havel, will take place between October 10 and 12 under the slogan "The World We Want to Live In".
Education Minister Josef Dobeš has replaced his deputy for general, specialised and other education for political reasons. Though a long time employee at the Education Ministry, the presence of Social Democrat Petr Špirhanzl in the Public Affairs minister’s inner circle was apparently criticised by both parties. Mr Špirhanzl will remain at the ministry in another position. The new deputy, Ladislav Němec, will be responsible for starting up state leaving exams, dealing with declining numbers of secondary school students and preparing new comparative exams for grades five through nine.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas says the Czech Republic will be applying for money from the EU Solidarity Fund to cover damages from recent floods in the regions of Liberec and Ústí nad Labem. The government will be discussing a joint application with Poland and the German state of Saxony, both of which were also hard hit by the early-August floods. The prime minister says that damages have so far reached 6.5 billion crowns, which does not entitle the country to automatic funding from the EU. The state has already earmarked 80 million crowns for immediate aid and a further 665 million for repairs to infrastructure.
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