The Czech Republic has become the world´s 29th country to gain the right to participate in decision-making about Antarctica, the Czech Foreign Ministry revealed in a press release. The decision to grant the country the privilege was taken at a meeting of parties to the Antarctic Treaty in Brussels; consultative status had not been granted to any state for almost a decade. The full-fledged position is given only to states that conduct substantial scientific research in Antarctica. The Czech Republic has its own polar research station on James Ross Island.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has evaluated his four-day trip to Russia as successful, saying that the Czech delegation fulfilled all of their basic objectives. A group of Czech businesspeople travelling with the premier signed a number of lucrative contracts in different regions of the country worth billions of crowns. Mr Nečas is hoping that this trip will open the way for even more business opportunities for Czech companies in the future. At the end of the visit, he was also able to briefly meet with some members of Russian non-governmental organizations.
Around 500 people participated in an anti-Roma demonstration organized in the north-Bohemian town of Duchcov on Wednesday evening in response to a violent attack on a couple by a group of Romanies in the town a few days prior. The demonstration drew a number of potentially-violent right-wing extremists: during an inspection of vehicles entering the town, the police confiscated 22 weapons including baseball bats, machetes and other items. One man was detained during the demonstration itself for disorderly conduct.
Conservationists have signed a contract with the firms Hochtief CZ and Gema Art group on the renovation of the Baroque Kuks chateau and hospital in the area of Trutnov. Repairs are to cost more than 266 million crowns. The news was announced by Oldřich Pešek, the deputy head of the heritage site in Sychrov. The project will get underway in a matter of days. Visitors to the chateau will still be able to see the permanent exhibit but can expect some changes and restrictions.
According to a new poll by the STEM agency, Civic Democrat Jiří Pospíšil, the former justice minister, remains the country’s most popular politician. Forty-nine percent of those who took part in the survey expressed support for Mr Pospíšil, while the head of the opposition Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka received 47 percent and deputy leader Michal Hašek received the same. Of those who placed in the top 10, only the position of the country’s Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg worsened, dropping from an earlier 49 percent in March to 40 percent in May.
The Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by imprisoned businessman Bohumír Ďuričko, who had sought a new trial over the murder of Václav Kočka, jr in 2008. Ďuričko was sentenced to 12.5 years in jail. The convict has maintained that new expert evidence proved he shot the victim in self-defence. The court, however, stated that testimonies by psychologists and psychiatrists could not be treated as new evidence and said they did not affect the original verdict.
Meteorologists have issued a warning that heavy rainfall expected between Thursday and Sunday could lead to a dangerous rise in water levels and possible flooding in areas of northern, western and southern Bohemia. At higher risk are the regions of Ustí and Liberec the Czech news agency reported. The upper Labe, Vltava and Berounka rivers could all see a significant increase of water levels. Locals have been warned to avoid river banks as well as water sports. Motorists have also been asked to drive cautiously as there will be an increased risk of hydroplaning in the coming days.
Czech footballer Milan Baroš, who plays for Baník Ostrava in the Czech league and holds the record for second-most goals scored for the national team, will reportedly begin considering next career steps after the current football season ends. Baroš returned to help his former club, after playing for Turkey’s Galatasaray. During his career, the 31-year-old player also played for Lyon, Aston Villa, and Liverpool. With Liverpool he won the Champions League in 2005. Teams in countries in the Persian Gulf are among the most interested in acquiring the player, according to the Czech news agency.
The European Commission has criticized the Czech Republic for failing to pass a new law on civil servants and said that the country may lose most of the financing it receives from the EU structural funds starting next year. EU officials are concerned that civil servants, especially at Czech ministries, change together with the political leadership, which thwarts continuity and efficiency of policy implementation. The Czech Republic is the only EU country that has yet to pass a law that would prevent high fluctuation in the civil service. If the Czech Republic does not pass the bill by the end of the year, it could lose up to 500 billion crowns in European funding.
The Constitutional Court has completed the first day of hearings concerning the proposal to repeal the law on church property restitution. The proposal was submitted by 18 senators from the Social Democratic, Communist and Public Affairs parties, who claim the law, which came into effect earlier this year, goes against the separation of church and state. The group suggested a number of witnesses to be heard by the court on Wednesday, but the panel of judges rejected them. According to the disputed legislation, the government will pay out approximately 134 billion crowns in property and financial compensation to religious institutions, as restitution for property taken away from them by the state. After hearing the evidence and final arguments, the Constitutional Court suspended proceedings on Wednesday afternoon until next Monday.
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