Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas, President Václav Klaus, Foreign
Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra are
heading a Czech delegation at a two-day NATO summit that began in Lisbon on
Friday. The Czech government has picked out the strategic rethink of the
alliance as the major issue for discussion. Government members have
insisted in the past they do not want to see any dilution of the principle
of common defence as new tasks such as tackling terrorism, energy security
and cyber crime are embraced. But alliance members are also expected to
plot a withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan.
The meeting is also expected to push ahead with a NATO anti-missile defence shield to be established over the next 10 years. This would be a wider version of the now abandoned shield originally planned between the US, Czech Republic and Poland. The last stage of the meeting will be taken up by a summit between the alliance and Russia.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková should be well in time to compete in a World Cup event in the German capital Berlin this weekend. The double Olympic champion was forced to pull out of the first World Cup meeting of the season in Heerenveen in the Netherlands after contracting intestinal flu. Sáblíková, who is 23, holds the world records in the speed skating 5,000 m and 10,000 m.
The anti-corruption police have accused three people of complicity in fraud for failing to deliver an order of furniture to the 2009 Nordic World Ski Championship in Liberec, police spokesman Roman Skřepek has told the Czech Press Agency. Police believe the three had concluded an agreement that only certain new rooms in the campus would be furnished, though new furniture was meant to be installed everywhere, resulting in a profit of almost four million crowns for the deliverer. Last September, police charged a former Liberec University rector and a representative of the firm Investing.cz of conspiracy in a public tender connected to the ski championship.
German President Christian Wulff told the Czech Press Agency on Friday that Germans must never forget the “indescribable suffering” they inflicted upon Czechs during the Second World War. In an interview ahead of his first trip to Prague on Monday, President Wulff said that even he, who was born 14 years after the war, shares responsibility for that history, which he must pass on to the next generations. The comments were in response to others made by his Czech counterpart, Václav Klaus, signalled his frustration that the dimensions and chronology of the occupation are being forgotten, in a speech to mark the Czech student resistance on Wednesday’s national holiday. Post-war Czech violence on Germans, Mr Klaus reminded, was incomparably smaller than the violence committed by the Nazis in the occupied countries. Mr Wulff also said he would like to pay respect in Prague to the Czech intellectuals and students who were sent to Nazi concentration camps on November 17, 1939.
Three clubs in the Czech ice hockey elite league the Extraliga have been docked points for fielding players who were not correctly registered. Mladá Boleslav, Plzeň and Kladno will lose points they won in matches in which the unregistered players performed. However, the teams they were playing against will not receive any extra points. The decision, announced by Extraliga boss Stanislav Šulc on Friday, means that the three clubs are now at the bottom of the league table, in the relegation playoff spots.
The trial began in Liberec on Friday of a former Communist Party MP accused of having beaten a prisoner when he was a warden in the 1980s. Josef Vondruška faces charges of abuse of power for allegedly punching former political prisoner Jiří Wolf for no reason and striking him with a nightstick when he was a guard at Minkovice prison. Mr Vondruška denies the accusations.
Scientists returned the remains of the 16th Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to his tomb in Prague on Friday. The Czech and Danish researchers, who opened the grave at the Church of Our Lady Before Týn at the start of the week, hope to settle a long-running dispute over what caused the death of the astronomer, who served at the royal court in Prague at the invitation of Holy Roman Emperor and Czech king Rudolph II. Samples of Brahe’s hair and beard taken during a previous exhumation revealed a high level of mercury in his remains, contradicting a legend that he died of an internal infection after his bladder burst. Prior to the reinterrment, the archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, will serve mass at the church, which is located a short distance from Old Town Square.
The TOP 09 party has applied for membership in the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political grouping of the European Union, the daily E15 wrote on Friday. According to the paper, the party will likely be accepted as EPP members - that is, right-wing conservative, liberal-conservative and Christian Democrat parties from all EU countries - issued a positive stand on TOP 09’s application. TOP 09 said the EPP was their sole choice and would not have considered any other European party. The party currently has observer status in the EPP, and its representatives can take part in important meetings at the European level.
A new survey from the STEM polling agency suggests that Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka is the most popular politician in the Czech Republic, favoured by 56% of people. Mr Sobotka, who will soon stand for party chairman, held the same ranking at the beginning of this year. Interior Minister and Public Affairs chairman Radek John however suffered a steep fall from grace according to the poll, from first in the middle of the year to 12th. The other two most popular politicians were Chamber of Deputies Speaker Miroslava Němcová and Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, both of the Civic Democratic Party.
Czech politicians have welcomed suggestions from the European Commission about how to shake up its farm subsidy policy, the Common Agricultural Policy. A main plank of the proposed changes released on Thursday is for discrimination in support between old member states and new ones, such as the Czech Republic, to be abolished after 2013. The proposal includes a guarantee that farmers in all states would be paid a proportion of average EU farm support. At the moment Czech farmers say they get around a third less in support than farmers in richer west European countries. The Commission proposal also suggests there should be no transition period to the new subsidy framework. One worry for Czech farmers is the possibility that a ceiling could be put on payments to large farms. Czech farm holdings are six times larger than the EU average.