Klaus begins four-day visit to Turkey

President Václav Klaus lent support to Turkey’s EU membership bid on the first of a four-day visit to the country. After talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Guel, the Czech president said that he believes Europe needs to be woken up, and that the accession of a large and dynamic country like Turkey could do just that. President Guel thanked Mr Klaus for his well-known support of Turkey’s EU bid and noted that some his sceptical views towards the EU had proven correct. President Klaus is travelling in the company of more than 60 Czech businessmen, which he said was the largest business delegation in Czech history and evidence of great interest in Turkey. A number of business contracts are to be signed between the countries. Among others, the Czech Export Bank is expected to confirm an agreement on financing the construction of port infrastructure and a trade centre in Istanbul.

Nečas: anti-corruption measures have saved tens of billions

Prime Minister Petr Nečas says that anti-corruption measures enacted by the government have saved the country tens of billions of crowns. Speaking at a press conference, Mr Nečas and deputy prime minister for corruption Karolína Peake praised the government’s passage of nearly half of the points of its anti-corruption strategy and said it was working on others. The prime minister noted that the country annually awards tenders worth nearly half a trillion crowns. The abandonment of middlemen in Defence Ministry tenders, he said, or the cancellation of a controversial eco-waste tender saved billions of crowns. Ms Peake said the government was still working on other measures such as transparency in party financing, whistleblower protection and increasing the independence of state prosecutors.

Celebrities call on government to back EU fiscal pact

Over 300 public figures have signed a petition calling upon the government to change its stance on the EU fiscal pact. The petition, which was organised by political scientist Jiří Pehe and priest Tomáš Halík, says that by rejecting the agreement for closer fiscal integration among EU members, the Czech Republic is needlessly removing itself from the main stream of European cooperation. The signatories believe the government’s stance will damage the country’s credibility and bring nothing of benefit. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has argued he does not have a mandate to conclude the treaty because of problems around its ratification, a view not shared by his coalition partners, TOP 09.

Man to serve 100 days in prison for vandalising political ads

A thirty-year-old bus driver in Olomouc has been sentenced to 100 days in prison for defacing political advertisements during the 2010 election season. Roman Smetana was originally sentenced to pay 15,000 crowns and serve 100 hours of community service for vandalising some 30 signs with pejorative postscripts and drawing antennae on the politicians. Only the Civic Democratic Party pressed charges against him, though he had defaced the signs of various parties. When Mr Smetana refused to serve his sentence he was given 100 days of house arrest, which he also refused. The judge in the case is the wife of one of the local candidates, leading Civic Democrat and former Interior Minister Ivan Langer.

Hunting secures place on Czech intangible cultural heritage list

Hunting has secured a place on the list of Czech intangible cultural heritage. It was put on the list by the Czech Culture Ministry which said hunting involved many customs, rituals and traditions worth preserving. Jaroslav Kostecka, secretary of the Bohemian and Moravian Hunters' Association said he hoped this would pave the way for a UNESCO listing. The Czech list of intangible property of traditional and folk culture only has five items. Besides hunting, the list also contains the south-east Moravian folk dance verbunk, falconry, the Vlcnov Ride of the Kings and Shrovetide masks and traditions from the Hlinsko vicinity, in east Bohemia. The Bohemian and Moravian Hunters' Association has 80,000 members, 10 percent of whom are women.

Massive water problems as temperature rise causes pipes to burst

The sudden temperature rise has caused water pipes to burst all around the country. In Prague broken pipes underground caused problems in three places, particularly at the busy Náměstí OSN intersection in Vysočany, where roads were closed on Tuesday morning due to flooding. Serious problems with burst pipes were also reported near the metro station in Dejvice and in Hrdlořezy. A number of schools were closed in the southern city of České Budějovice, where seven leaks were reported, while more than 4,000 homes in Liberec were without water as of Tuesday morning.

Constitutional Court re-approves pension supplements for employees in Slovakia

The Czech Constitutional Court has ruled that retirees who worked in Slovakia before 1993 should have the opportunity to have their pensions supplemented by the Czech Republic. Last year, the Czech Republic was still supplementing the pensions of those who received less because they had been employed in Slovakia before the two countries split. However, this was halted once the European Court of Justice ruled the practice was discriminatory because it was conditional upon Czech citizenship and permanent residence in the Czech Republic. The Constitutional Court has now stood by a previous verdict, saying the EU court had not considered the specific situation after Czechoslovakia´s split in 1993 into consideration. As of last year, the average Slovak pension was roughly 9,095 Czech crowns, compared to 10,552 crowns in the Czech Republic.

Zeman accepts party’s backing for presidency

The Party of Civic Rights – Zemanovci announced Tuesday that former prime minister Miloš Zeman would be their candidate for presidential elections in 2013. Mr Zeman, the party’s namesake and honorary chairman, had previously said he would run for the office only if direct elections were introduced. He accepted the candidature in a letter from hospital, where he is currently undergoing a minor operation, on the condition that he receives the required 50,000 voter signatures.

Klaus issues 14 pardons

President Václav Klaus has issued 14 pardons on humanitarian grounds. Most of the recipients are women caring for children, one is handicapped and bound to a wheelchair. In another case the president pardoned the suspended sentence of a woman convicted of improper property administration, bribery and embezzlement on the grounds that she was caring for a gravely ill husband. Three foreigners’ deportations were pardoned, one because the crime for which she was deported occurred 20 years ago, when all deportations were permanent.

Second series of “Borgia” to bring 400 million crowns

The daily E15 reports that the filming of the next series of the French television series Borgia should bring the country some 400 million crowns, nearly double the amount spent in the country on the first series. The paper writes that the historical series will be one of the largest foreign film investments in the country this year. As in the first series, 12 episodes are planned on a budget of 25 million euros, or more than 625 crowns. Part of the series is to be filmed in Italy. The Czech Ministry of Culture has given 34 million crowns in support of the project. The filmmakers will reportedly be working in Martinická palác in Prague as well as locations in Telč, Jindřichův Hradec, and Zvíkov.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be cloudy with rain and snow and daytime temperatures just above the freezing point.