Daily news summary News

05-09-2009

PM Fischer visits Hong Kong

The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, visited Hong Kong on Saturday to promote mutual trade relations. Mr Fischer signed two memorandums on trade cooperation with Hong Kong officials during his visit to the city, the New China news agency reported. Mr Fischer also met with the head of the Hong Kong special administrative region, Donald Tsang. The Czech prime minister said that economic diplomacy was the priority of the Czech foreign policy and that Hong Kong was one of Asia’s biggest export markets for Czech companies. The director of Hong Kong’s Trade Development Council, Fred Lam, said that mutual trade between the Czech Republic and Hong Kong rose last year by 23 percent to more than 17 billion crowns, or 960 million US dollars.

Czech troops leave for Afghanistan

Another 74 Czech troops left for Afghanistan on Saturday to replace their colleagues in the provincial reconstruction team in the province of Logar. They will join 53 Czech soldiers, from the 42nd Mechanized Battalion “Saint Wenceslas” who already left at the end of July. The regular rotation of the Czech provincial reconstruction team will finish on September 20.

The Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team, with 272 troops, was deployed in March 2008 in the Afghan province of Logar. The total number of Czech troops taking part in NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan is 480.

Cable TV veteran Nathanson set to become US ambassador to Prague

American cable TV veteran Marc Nathanson is set to become the new US ambassador to the Czech Republic, the daily Právo reported on Saturday. If Mr Nathanson gets appointed by President Barack Obama and approved by the US Senate, he could assume his post before the end of the year. The previous US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Richard Graber, left Prague in January.

Mr. Nathanson is currently the vice chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. A veteran of the cable television industry, he founded and served as chairman and CEO of Falcon Cable TV. He is also an active supporter of the Democratic Party.

Most Czechs against Constitutional Court’s decision to put off elections

Some 58 percent of Czechs do not agree with the decision of the Constitutional Court to postpone the early general elections, according to a new survey by the STEM agency. Meanwhile, only 20 percent of Czechs did not notice at all that the elections, planned for October 9 and 10, were postponed.

The Czech Constitutional Court decided on Tuesday to postpone early elections on the grounds of a complaint from unaffiliated deputy Miloš Melčák. He claims the constitutional amendment by which the Chamber of Deputies shortened its term had violated his right to execute his mandate for four years.

Civic Democrats propose further changes to constitution

Civic Democrats would like to see more profound changes to the Czech constitution, deputy party chair David Vodrážka told the daily Lidové noviny on Saturday. Experts of all six Czech parliamentary parties agreed this week on an amendment to the constitution that should make it easier to hold early general elections. Mr Vodrážka said that politicians should also introduce more elements of a majority voting system and lower the number of deputies from 200 to 199 to avoid post-election stalemates. Representatives of the communist party and the Greens have agreed with the proposal but said these changes should only be implemented after the early general elections.

CIAF air show begins in Hradec Králové

The two-day Czech International Air Fest 2009 began at the airfield in Hradec Králové, eastern Bohemia, on Saturday, with aircraft from 13 countries. The air show features the Royal Jordanian Falcons acrobatic team as well as Eurofighters of the Austrian Air Force, Belgian F-16s, Czech Republic’s Jas 39 Grippen and the Harrier aircraft of the RAF. Flights of the historic plane of the Wright brothers from 1906 had to be cancelled due to strong winds.

Visegrad Group states may share some embassy buildings to cut costs

The Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, who are all members of the Visegrad Group, are considering setting up joint embassies in one building in a number of foreign countries, the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza wrote on Friday. The plan is said to have emerged as a result of cost-cutting measures during the economic crisis which have forced all four states to reduce the number of embassies and consulates around the world. The Czech Foreign Ministry said recently ten Czech embassies and consulates would have to be closed down in the near future.

Ombudsman will not apologize for pregnancy comment

Ombudsman Otakar Motejl has said he would not apologize for implying that Petra Paroubková, wife of Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek, had timed her pregnancy to coincide with the country’s early general elections. In an interview for the daily Hospodarske Noviny Mr. Motejl said that politicical parties were primarily concered about their investment in the elelction campaign being squandered and that if elections did not take place this year Mrs. Paroubková would probably have to get pregnant again. The internet news site Novinky noted that the remark was in extremely poor taste, but Petra Paroubková is reported to have taken it with good humour saying that she was working hard to time her baby’s arrival but that that these last minute changes in the election date weren’t making it easy for her. Mr. Motejl said he had made the remark in jest.

Košice Gold Treasure to be displayed in Prague

The Gold Treasure of Košice, Slovakia, will be one of the first collections to go on display in the new building of the Prague National Museum, its director Michal Lukeš told the ctk news agency. The treasure, which consists of some 3,000 coins and other precious items from the 15th and 16th centuries, was brought to Prague in a special van by representatives of the Slovak National Museum on Friday and was guarded by nine masked policemen armed with sub-machine guns. The Košice treasure was uncovered in the 1930s during the construction of a building in the town and its historical significance is said to be immeasurable. It will be on display from mid-September until January of 2010.

Police arrest criminal wanted in three states

The south Bohemian police say they have detained a Slovak national who is wanted in three European states for serious crimes. The man from Banská Bystrica, central Slovakia, headed a group which committed 11 burglaries in Austria and Germany, causing damage of over ten million crowns. If convicted, the Slovak can be sentenced to 15 years in prison in Germany, ten years in Austria and 12 years in Slovakia, a policespokeswoman said. The man is said to have masterminded the group from the Czech Republic.

Fourteen-year-old driver injures cyclist

Police are investigating an accident in which a fourteen-year-old boy driving an old Škoda seriously injured a cyclist after failing to give him right of way on a crossroads. The boy said he had bought the old Škoda from a friend four days ago for the price of 2,000 crowns. A policewoman said the car was not roadworthy and had a different license plate at the front and back. Since the boy is underage the police cannot file charges but his parents are likely to receive a heavy fine and he may be sent to a home for juvenile delinquents.

Weather

The weekend should be cloudy with some clear spots and occasional rain showers. Highest day temperatures will range between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.

05-09-2009