Daily news summary
Holocaust survivors and politicians attend memorial ceremony at Terezín
Scores of survivors and dozens of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of European parliaments attended a ceremony honouring victims of the Holocaust at the former Terezín concentration camp in Central Bohemia on Tuesday. The event was timed to coincide with a ceremony at Auschwitz marking the 70th anniversary of its liberation. The Nazis transported up to 100,000 Jews from Terezín to Auschwitz and other death camps between 1940 and 1945, while around a fifth of those interned in Terezín met their deaths there.
Zeman: Islamic State could carry out “super-holocaust” leaving hundreds of millions dead
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has warned of a “super-holocaust” leaving hundreds of millions dead if Islamic State is not stopped. Speaking in Prague at a conference marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Mr. Zeman said Islamic State was similar in nature to Germany's Nazis at the start of the 1930s. He called for unified armed action against Islamic State led by the United Nations Security Council and warned that more terrorist attacks would need to occur before the public realised that it wasn't possible to negotiate with terrorists.
Zaorálek slams Zeman's idea of unified military action against Islamic terrorists
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has expressed strong opposition to the kind of joint military action against Islamic terrorism proposed on Tuesday by President Miloš Zeman. In a statement, Mr. Zaorálek asked whether a “crusade” should be launched, and if so against whom and where. “Against Jihadist groups from Senegal to Somalia, against Libya, Yemen or Pakistan? Nonsense!” wrote the minister. Mr. Zaorálek said Muslims needed to take a leading role in curing the cancer of radical Islamic ideology. He said Arabs in particular should demonstrate that murder and terror are not the true face of Islam, adding that he did not believe in further Western military intervention in Syria, Iraq, or “God knows where”. Earlier Mr. Zeman had warned of a “super-holocaust” leaving hundreds of millions dead if Islamic State was not stopped.
Zaorálek hands second diplomatic note to Norwegian Embassy over child custody case
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has handed a second diplomatic note to the Norwegian Embassy in Prague in connection with the case of two Czech boys taken into care in the country in 2011 over allegations of sexual abuse. Their mother Eva Michaláková has been campaigning for their return. In the document, Mr. Zaorálek called on the Norwegian social services to enter into dialogue with their Czech counterparts. Norway's ambassador to Prague, Siri Ellen Sletner, said she would pass the note on to her country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prague approves possible return to paper travel passes
Prague councillors have approved a possible return to paper long-term public transport passes that would start in March. The paper passes could be introduced if the city loses licenses for the Opencard electronic card system that was brought in to replace them. Opencard contracts signed by previous Prague governments are reported to have been overpriced. Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said last week that the city was prepared to introduce paper passes in order to avoid being forced to pay for new licenses under pressure of time. The operator of the service, eMoneyServices, has called for a stabilisation of the situation. Otherwise, it said, it would demand the city settle all its debts to the firm.
Slight rise in number of registered partnerships seen in 2014
Last year 233 couples entered into registered partnerships in the Czech Republic, 32 more than in 2013. The majority of the pairs – 148 – were men. Close to 4,000 gays and lesbians have entered such unions since the institution was introduced by Czech legislators eight and a half years ago. The information has been provided by gay rights activist Milda Šlehofer as no official count is kept, the Czech News Agency reported.
Prague's Werich Villa to become Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre
A famous villa on Prague's Kampa is set to become the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech actors Jan Werich (who lived there) and Jiří Voskovec. It will be operated by the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation. The authorities in Prague 1 voted on Tuesday to rent the Werich Villa to the organisation for CZK 600,000 a year on a 10-year contract with the option of another 10-year term when the first comes to an end. The future of the building had been the subject of speculation since 2002, when it was damaged in flooding.
Berdych snaps losing streak against Nadal, advances to semi-final at Australian Open
Czech No. men’s tennis player Tomáš Berdych snapped a 17-match losing streak against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open on Tuesday, defeating his opponent in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals. The Czech completely dominated in the first two sets and withstood Nadal’s attempt to fight back in the third. The final score was 6:2, 6:0, 7:6. Berdych faces Great Britain’s Andy Murray next.