The militaries of NATO member countries should cooperate more after the ISAF mission ends in Afghanistan in 2014, Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Prague on Saturday. He stressed that member countries must not give up their own defence at the time of financial cuts. Deeper cooperation would help NATO members retain their military capabilities, he added. The three-day session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which is a counselling body, began Friday. Committees consisting of delegates from the parliaments of allied countries are discussing current security challenges and international affairs.
Fire fighters are keeping a close eye on a blaze that broke out at a dumpsite in the region of Liberec, north Bohemia, preventing it from spreading to similar nearby facilities. Burning in a sheet metal hall are between 2,500 to 3,000 tonnes of textiles thought to originally have been from Germany. Experts estimate that it will take two or three days for the fire to run its course. The fire broke out on Friday afternoon and spread rapidly throughout the hall, the mayor of Bulovka, the village hosting the dumpsite, confirmed. The mayor refused to speculate whether the fire had been set intentionally. The hall is 60 by 20 metres; textiles inside are piled five or six metres high. According to experts the temperature inside is over 1000 degrees Celsius.
Customs officials have revealed they arrested two 18-year-old foreigners this week attempting to smuggle roughly eight kilos of cocaine into the Czech Republic. Jiří Barták, the spokesman for the Customs Administration’s central office, revealed the amount the young women were smuggling had been estimated at around 12 million crowns in street value, with one gram selling for 1,500. The suspects, from Iceland, flew from Brazil through Germany and hid the cocaine in hollow parts of their luggage and smaller cases, the spokesman confirmed.
Four people were killed in an amateur automobile race in the Slovácko area in the Czech Republic on Saturday. At around two pm near the village of Lopeník – in a race known as RallyShow Uherský Brod – one of the cars in the race flew off the road and hit a tree before being deflected into onlookers. One of those killed was a child. Police and fire fighters have sent experts to the scene to provide post-trauma counselling. The tragedy, which echoes a similar incident in the Barum Rally at the beginning of September which saw one fatality, is being investigated.
Czech President Václav Klaus reiterated his stance on the European Union and further integration on Friday in a lecture at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague. In a hall packed with students, the president, relishing the chance to speak on academic soil, criticised this year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU, arguing the reasoning behind cause-and-effect was faulty. In his view the EU exists because there is peace in Europe and not because it was a guarantor of it. Mr Klaus, long opposed to further EU integration, argued that further integration was no guarantee of greater economic prosperity, calling it a “dead end”. Mr Klaus steps down as Czech president next March; 11 candidates will face off in a first round in the country’s direct presidential election in January.
Lawyers for Czech lobbyist and businessman Roman Janoušek say they have signed a settlement with the victim of a hit-and-run caused by their client in March. Although no amount has been disclosed, the settlement is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of crowns: several times more the damages assessed by the victim’s physicians. In March, Mr Janoušek struck the victim – a 51-year-old woman – in Prague as he attempted to drive away from the scene of a minor accident he had caused moments earlier. Police determined he had been drinking behind the wheel. If found guilty, Mr Janoušek faces up to 10 years in jail; the settlement could influence the severity of the sentence.
The region of Zlín, south Moravia, represented by Governor Stanislav Mišák and the governor of the Yaroslavl oblast in Russia, Sergei Yastrebov, signed an agreement on Friday promising close cooperation in the future. The move coincided with a memorial hockey game between Zlín and Yaroslavl honouring members of the team and others killed in last year’s Lokomotiv Jaroslavl air disaster. The crash claimed the lives of 44 people, including three Czech players. One of them, Karel Rachůnek, was a Zlín native. Areas where the regions of Zlín and Yaroslavl could cooperate in the future include tourism, the spa business, agriculture, industry, and job creation.
The lower house of Parliament on Friday voted to remove MP Radek John, of the opposition Public Affairs group, from the chamber’s security and mandate and immunity committees over his return to journalism. Mr John, formerly an investigative reporter, began to work for a commercial Czech TV station but coalition MPs were concerned that he might be releasing classified information. The Social Democrats opposed Mr John’s removal as the opposition lost a majority in the two committees.
Social Democrat politicians were on Friday elected governors of the South Bohemian, Moravian-Silesian nad Vysočina regions. In South Bohemia the regional council re-elected Jiří Zimola as governor, while Miroslav Novák was freshly elected governor of Moravia-Silesia. The council of the central Vysočina region re-elected the popular governor Jiří Běhounek. All three regions are now ruled by coalitions of the Social Democrats and Communists following the two parties’ strong showing in last month’s elections. The Social Democrats came first in 11 of the country’s 13 regions where the elections took place.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych lost to world number one Novak Djokovič 2-6, 6-7 at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Friday and was knocked out of the tournament. Berdych needed to win at least one set to keep alive his hopes of advancing and was close in the second set. But he spoilt all three set points and lost in a tie-break. The leading Czech player will now move to Prague to prepare for next week’s finals of the Davis Cup in which the Czechs host Spain.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
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Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
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