Daily news summary
President commemorates WWI soldiers
Czech President Miloš Zeman said on Tuesday that membership in the EU and NATO were guarantees of security for the Czech Republic even as conflict elsewhere in Europe continued; speaking at the Vítkov Memorial in Prague, he warned that hotbeds of war could spread and said that peace was not something guaranteed forever, but needed to be fought for. Mr Zeman made the statements on the occasion the upcoming 100th anniversary of World War I. In his speech, he noted the present-day participation of Czech troops in foreign missions and mentioned conflicts in Mali, Afghanistan and Ukraine. The ceremony, paying respect to those who laid down their lives in the First World War, was attended by former president Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka as well as members of the current government and diplomats.
ČEZ reaches 100-million-euro settlement with Albania
The Czech power utility ČEZ is to receive 100 million euros under a settlement with Albania, a spokeswoman for the state-run firm said on Tuesday. The deal ends a row with Albanian authorities over a power-distributing firm, a subsidiary of ČEZ, which was last year stripped of its licence. ČEZ launched arbitration proceedings against Albania, and the Czech government threatened to block granting of EU candidate status to Albania if the dispute was not resolved. ČEZ is to receive the money, which roughly corresponds to the firm’s initial investment in the country, in annual instalments spread over the next four years.
Czechs open new polar station in Svalbard, Norway
The University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice opened the first Czech polar research station in Svalbard, Norway on Tuesday. A house in Longyearbyen was purchased by the university and converted at the cost of 30 million crowns. Longyearbyen that is the administrative centre of the Norwegian archipelago and is the northernmost town in the world. Czech scientists mainly want to use the station between June and September; at the same time, the station can be used throughout the year. Until now, scientists had worked at a leased station; the new station includes two laboratories and accommodation for 20 people.
Municipal Court issues preliminary order preventing eMoneyServices from blocking Opencard
Prague’s Municipal Court has issued a preliminary order preventing the firm eMoneyServices from blocking Prague’s transit pass known as the Opencard. The court took the step based on a complaint filed on Monday by City Hall. The City of Prague administration and eMoneyServices, which holds ownership rights to the multi-purpose data card, are at odds after failing to reach an agreement on the continued operation of the Opencard system at the cost of a proposed half-a-billion crowns. Prague recently took over IT administration of the system but lacks the right to change or re-programme the existing software. eMoneyService spokesman Martin Opatrný told the Czech News Agency he didn’t understand why the city had filed the complaint, saying that EMS had not intervened at all in the card’s use. At the same time, Prague and EMS are still in negotiations, with the city aiming to try and acquire the data card rights.
Police to heighten controls during summer break
Traffic police around the country will increase controls on Czech roads ahead of the upcoming summer holidays in an effort to lower traffic accidents. The month of June registered a markedly higher number of fatalities on Czech roads than last year: 54 people lost their lives in accidents – 27 more than during the same period last year. The first three summer holiday weekends will see the police concentrate on major roads and highways. Between July 21 and 27 they will also focus on tourist busses.
Vysočina lobbies for fifth reactor at Dukovany
Councilors from the region of Vysočina have signed a document supporting the addition of a new – fifth – reactor at the nuclear power plant in Dukovany, which they see as an important source of new jobs and a boost to the quality of life in the region. The governor of the region, Jiří Běhounek, said he had already discussed the matter with both representatives of the Czech energy giant ČEZ, which runs the plant, and government representatives. Dukovany, older than the only other Czech nuclear power plant Temelín, faces routine tests in September by a team of specialists from WANO. The last such tests were five years ago.
International film festival to welcome Hollywood actor Mel Gibson
Oscar-winning actor, director and producer Mel Gibson, 58, will receive the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema at the opening of the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on July 4, its president Jiří Bartoška told reporters on Tuesday. Gibson, born in Australia and living in the United States, won two Academy Awards for the 1995 film Braveheart. There will be a screening of Gibson’s Apocalypto, set during the decline of the Mayan empire. The international festival will also welcome French actress and director Fanny Ardant and Hollywood actress Laura Dern (Blue Velvet, Jurassic Park).
Consumer, business confidence up in June
After two months of stagnation, the overall confidence in Czech economy increased in June to 8.3 points, 1.2 points up from the previous month, according to fresh figures by the Czech Statistics Office released on Tuesday. An increase in the business confidence was registered in the service, retail and construction sectors while a slight drop occurred in the industry sector. The consumer confidence index, which rose by 1.2 points month on month in June, however remains at -2.8 points. Analysts say Czech consumers are less concerned about the worsening of the economy but remain worried about their own financial situation and unemployment.
Prague 1 considering hiring security firm to discourage nighttime disturbances
The district of Prague 1 is aiming to hire a private security firm to help enforce ‘quiet time’ during the night, councilor Ivan Solil has said. Current restrictions or limits had not helped in the busy city centre; Mr Solil said he planned to propose a bylaw affecting opening hours of restaurants and bars. The move comes after locals complained repeatedly of disturbances in the late or early hours. The idea of quelling disturbances by hiring local security has so far drawn heated debate; if a firm is hired, its guards would reportedly operate in trouble areas between midnight and 4 AM, contacting the police if need be.
Tennis: Seven Czechs through to Wimbledon’s second round
Seven Czech tennis players have advanced to the second round at Wimbledon including Czech men’s number one tennis player Tomáš Berdych, who defeated Romania’s Victor Hanescu 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, and Radek Štěpánek who beat Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2. 6-4. 6-4. In women’s singles, Petra Kvitová, Lucie Šafářová, Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová and Tereza Smitková have also booked spots in the Grand Slam's second round.