Czech Radio has produced a photograph of the US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Shapiro, attending this year’s Czechoslovak Independence Day celebrations at Prague Castle, following President Zeman’s claim that he was one of the few diplomats who stayed away from the event. Mr. Shapiro’s presence at the ceremony in Prague Castle’s Vladislav Hall was also confirmed by the German Ambassador to Prague Arndt Freiherr Freytag von Loringhoven who sat next to him at the event. Relations between the president and US ambassador have been strained since the spring of 2015 when Ambassador Shapiro criticized the Czech head of state for attending V-Day celebrations in Moscow while other EU leaders boycotted the event in protest over Russia’s interference in Ukraine.
China’s ambassador to Prague was called on Thursday the circumstances surrounding Beijing’s last minute ban on agriculture minister Marian Jurečka heading a delegation to the country. The ambassador met with deputy foreign affairs minister Martin Tlapa where the subject was raised. The meeting had been scheduled previously. Christian Democrat Jurečka has been an outspoken backer of party colleague and culture minister Daniel Herman in a recent row over the circumstances of his meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The Czech agriculture delegation was part of an agreed programme aimed at cutting China’s massive trade surplus with the Czech Republic. Deputy minister Tlapa said after the meeting that the ambassador could not give reasons for the ban and apparently did not know them. Attempts will be made to fix future dates for Jurečka's visit.
Catholic priest Tomas Halík has called on religious leaders, cultural representatives and members of the academic world to boycott the October 28 celebrations at Prague Castle in solidarity with George Brady. Mr. Halík, who received the prestigious Templeton Prize in 2014, also urged the nominees who are to receive state awards from President Zeman this year to consider whether they can accept the honour without a sense of shame. The Catholic priest said Czech society cannot remain silent in the face of the latest developments because to do so would mean to turn the helm of the country’s ship away from Europe and the values of the Western world.
Plans are in place to create new entrances to Prague’s Main Train Station, iDnes.cz reported on Monday. The Railway Infrastructure Administration is going to extend the underpass beneath the station’s platforms so that it joins freshly built walkways to Žižkov and Vinohrady, the news site said. At present some people take a dangerous route across the station’s tracks to reach the two districts, despite warning signs. The new entrances should be in operation from 2018.
Journalist Jana Ciglerová has held several positions at the top Czech dailies Mladá fronta DNES and Lidové noviny, and now writes for the former’s weekly supplement Magazín DNES. Our tour of “her Prague” soon turns into a very enjoyable trip down memory lane, starting at Velryba (The Whale) on Opatovická St. The café has been one of the best spots of its kind in the city for nearly two and a half decades.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he wants the Czech government and the country’s members of the European Parliament to coordinate a “national position” on the UK’s exit from the EU. Speaking after a meeting with Czech MEPs in Prague on Friday, he said a key point in negotiations with the London government would be the protection of Czech workers on the UK labour market. Mr. Sobotka said he expected talks on the UK’s departure from the EU to be complicated and take a very long time.
Firefighters were called out to deal with an oil spill on the Vltava River in Prague on Friday, iDnes.cz reported. The oil “stain”, which was around 50 metres in length, occurred between the Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge in the centre of the city. It was likely caused by the escape of motor oil from a plastic bottle, a spokesperson for the fire service said. A temporary ban was imposed on boats on the river while the problem was being addressed.
An abandoned former medical facility in Prague’s Žižkov which was taken over and cleaned up by squatters and activists in 2014 to create what they called an anti-commercial, cultural and social centre, has been obtained by the Railway Infrastructure Administration. The news was reported by Czech Radio’s flagship station Radiožurnál on Monday. The state agency told the wire service ČTK that it intended to use the building for its own employees. The squatters who ran the facility which they called Klinika, repeatedly appealed to community spirit and aimed to provide what they described as a platform for “anti-authoritarian collectives and individuals”.
It is exactly forty years since the first inhabitants started moving into the Czech Republic’s biggest housing estate, Jižní Město in the south of Prague. The local Chodovská tvrz gallery is marking this anniversary with an exhibition dedicated to the history of the district and to the everyday life of its inhabitants. Called Jižní město: From Utopia to Reality, it features large-scale models of the prefabricated houses, audio recordings, as well as art objects reflecting life at the so-called “Jižák”.
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