Some 200 people attended a funeral ceremony for a 22-year-old Romany man
that took place in Tanvald on Saturday. The man was shot in the north
Bohemian town on New Year’s Day. After an emotional service in the local
church, hundreds of people, among them Romanies from across the country,
accompanied the man’s coffin to the cemetery, where a minute of silence
in honor of the murder victim was held.
Police presence in Tanvald was heightened during the funeral and local
police forces were monitoring the situation closely. The funeral ended
without any clashes between Roma and right-wing extremists, who some feared
would travel to the town. Tensions between Czechs and Romanies have been
building in Tanvald in recent years.
On New Year’s Day, a 63-year-old man shot the 22-year-old Romany man and his 24-year old brother, killing one and wounding the other. Police are investigating the case and have stated that there is no evidence of racial motives for the murder.
Czech speed skater Martina Sablíková, world-record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters speed skating discipline, on Saturday won the 1,500 meters at the European speed skating championships in Budapest. She came in at 2 minutes and 3.64 seconds, a score that put her ahead of the Dutch Linda de Vries and the Russian Yuliya Skokova. Sablíková is the defending European champion and has won the title three times. She leads the overall standings. The title will be decided Sunday in the 5,000 meter race.
The annual Forum 2000 conference, which was co-founded by the late Czech
president Václav Havel, will continue taking place after Mr. Havel’s
death. The director of the Forum 2000 conference, Oldřich Černý, said
that the late president’s legacy will retain its importance. He added
that it remains to be seen how often the conference will take place and
what form it will take. Forum 2000 will also be collaborating with the
Václav Havel Library, he said.
The Forum 2000 conferences have been held in Prague since 1997, bringing prominent thought leaders, Nobel laureates, and former and acting politicians to the Czech capital. Among the conference’s speakers in the past were the Dalai Lama, Shimon Peres and Bill Clinton. Its mission is to map the globalization process and to note its positive results as well as the perils encountered by an increasingly interconnected world.
Wimbledon champion Petra Kvítova and teammate Tomáš Berdych had straight-set victories over their French opponents at the Hopman Cup in the Australian Perth on Saturday, giving the Czech Republic its second Hopman Cup title. Kvítova won the last three games of the first set and went on to beat the French Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1, while Berdych beat French Richard Gasquet 7-6 (0), 6-4. This is second time the Czech Republic has won the eight-country fixed-teams title; its first victory at the Hopman Cup took place in 1994, when Jana Novotná and Petr Korda beat Germany in the final.
Czech women with silicone breast implants manufactured by a French firm accused of using unapproved industrial-grade material should have them replaced, a Health Ministry spokesman said on Friday. The recommendation follows a consultative meeting of a commission of experts who met to weigh up the risks. Women who refuse to undergo repeat surgery have been advised to have regular check-ups. It is not yet clear who will finance the operations, though the country’s largest health insurer VZP said Thursday it would cover the cost of repeat surgery for all women who undertook it for health reasons. An estimated 2,000 Czech women received the risky implants.
Road maintenance crews are struggling to deal with the consequences of heavy snow in the north of the country. Several roads in the Krušné Hory mountains remain closed and traffic police have issued a warning regarding the state of the D8 motorway. The clean-up operation is complicated by strong winds.
The opposition Social Democrats say they will request a special session of Parliament to deal with the country’s persisting problems in drawing subsidies from EU funds. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that there was a very real threat of the EC halting subsidies to several ministries which consistently fail to meet the respective criteria. The situation is reportedly worst in the Education Ministry, the Environment Ministry and the Ministry for Local Development.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka is among 22 archbishops elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict on Friday. The pope announced their appointment following an Epiphany Mass in the Vatican and will elevate them to their new rank in a formal ceremony on February 18. The sixty-eight year old Dominik Duka is the country’s second living cardinal alongside Miloslav Vlk. The head of the Czech Catholic Church will thus join the conclave that will one day help elect the Pope’s successor.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade balance remained in surplus in November, though it narrowed on the month due largely to accelerating import growth, the Czech Statistics Office said Friday. The country's November trade surplus totalled 18.41 billion crowns, down from a surplus of 25.96 billion in October. Imports rose 6.3% on the year in November following a 3.5% annual gain in October, while exports rose 9.6% annually in the month compared with an 8.6% annual increase a month earlier.
The EU’s debt crisis, energy issues and the state of bilateral relations topped the agenda of a meeting between French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and the visiting Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday. The French Areva is one of the bidders for the contract on the completion of the Czech nuclear power plant at Temelin. The two officials reportedly also discussed new possibilities in the field of scientific and technological cooperation. Prime Minister Nečas is also due to meet with French President Nikolas Sarkozy on Friday evening.
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