The Visegrad group states have said the solution to the EUs debt crisis must not undermine growth or hurt the common market. At their session in Prague on Friday the heads of government of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary stressed the need for long-term, far-reaching changes which would gradually restore confidence on EU financial markets. Meeting ahead of next week’ s EU summit in Brussels the Visegrad group warned against quick solutions in the form of a hastily conceived fiscal union which EU members would be asked to support without closer inspection.
Doctors’ unions have announced two new protests against hospital salaries. Without stating further details, the unions said that one protest would be a cooperative effort with the countries of the Visegrad Group in the autumn. The other will be a long-term national protest for which no date has been set. Organisers said only that the events were aimed at hurting the reform government rather than patients.
The Foreign Ministry has also announced that additional Czech consular offices will be opened on a temporary basis for the summer, namely in Barcelona, Spain, the seaside town Burgas in Bulgaria and in Split and Rijeka in Croatia. The Czech embassies in Spain and Croatia will also have additional staff for the summer. Eight Czech police will be operating in Croatia, which is the most popular summer destination for Czech tourists, in order to help their Croat colleagues deal with cases involving Czech citizens. The ministry noted that Czech citizens may address a diplomatic mission of any other EU country if they are staying in a state where there is no Czech consulate.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the press on Monday that he would be keeping his fingers crossed for the new Prime Minister of Greece, who he said would not have an easy job to do. Responding to the results of repeated early elections in the indebted country, Mr Schwarzenberg told the Czech Press Agency that he should rather offer his condolences. The chairman of the winning conservative party, New Democracy, met with the Greek president on Monday and agreed that a governing coalition must be established as soon as possible.
The number of Czech citizens in foreign prisons nearly doubled last year, the Foreign Ministry has reported. Releasing their figures at the start of the main tourist season on Monday, the ministry stated that there were more than 1000 citizens either serving sentences or in police custody abroad at the end of 2011, over 400 more than the year before. The real numbers are likely higher, as the ministry´s data is based on information received from Czech diplomatic missions. According to those sources, the cities with the largest number of Czech prisoners were London with 141, Munich with 134 and Madrid with 105.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has refused to extend the accreditation of three Russian tourist agencies citing low credibility. The names of the agencies have not been released. The ministry denies or fails to extend accreditation in cases where an agency does not fulfill the respective criteria or violates their conditions such as providing false information. There are currently 168 Russian travel agencies which arrange trips to the Czech Republic. Approximately 80 percent of Russian tourists visit this country within a package tour. The Czech consulate in Moscow issues around half a million visas a year.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg struck back at German criticism of the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant in Monday’s issue of Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Mr Schwarzenberg wrote that while other European states use nuclear power, he knows of no other case in which a neighbour comes under such a strong pressure to abandon it. The Czech Republic, he said, respects Germany´s decision to substitute nuclear energy with renewable sources, in spite of the fact that that decision overburdens the Czech distribution network. Temelín is to be completed by 2025. French, Russian and U.S. firms have shown interest in the huge order.
In related news, the mayor of Lidice, Veronika Kellerová, said she considered the letter a gesture of reconciliation. She said that she was pleased that the German president had written such a letter on occasion of the 70-year-anniversary of the massacre. Others were less positive, such as survivor Pavel Horešovský, who as a child was forcibly removed from the village and sent to Germany for “re-education”. He said that he was waiting for an official apology from Germany to this day.
German President Joachim Gauck said in a letter to his Czech counterpart
Václav Klaus on Friday that Germany was aware of its historical
responsibility for the massacres in the Czech villages of Lidice and
Ležáky during World War II. Mr Gauck wrote the letter ahead of the 70th
anniversary of the destruction of Lidice and Ležáky by the Nazis in
retaliation for the assassination of acting Reichsprotector of Bohemia and
Moravia Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942. Heydrich succumbed to wounds
suffered in the attack which was orchestrated by Czech paratroopers.
As a result, Lidice, in Central Bohemia, was obliterated on June 10 and Ležáky, East Bohemia, was burnt to the ground on June 24. In Lidice alone, all 173 men were executed, while most women and children were sent to concentration camps. Some of the children were selected for “re-education” in Nazi Germany. In his letter, German President Gauck wrote that the despicable acts in Lidice and Ležáky filled him with “deep sorrow and shame”, but cited positive ties between Germany and the Czech Republic today as reason for hope. In response, Václav Klaus thanked his German counterpart, saying that he considered the letter a strong statement and positive gesture.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a strong warning against all travel to the Sinai Peninsula. Quoting intelligence reports, the ministry warns of a heightened risk of terrorism across the area including the popular resorts of Sharm-El-Sheikh and Dahab. But Czech travel agencies have slammed the warning which they say is too vague.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
Czech biochemist involved in developing potential coronavirus treatment
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague