Foreign Ministry offers Russia reciprocal inspection missions
The Czech Foreign Ministry says it is prepared to open talks with Russia on reciprocal inspection missions to military bases in the two countries. The offer comes in response to Moscow’s demand for a permanent Russian military presence at a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic, which would be part of the US missile defense shield. Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalová said on Thursday that any agreement regarding inspection missions to the radar base would have to be reached with Prague and that there was no support whatsoever for the idea of a permanent Russian military presence in the country. Czech and American government officials are expected to sign an agreement on the radar base in early May but it will still have to be approved by Parliament.
Cabinet ministers would advise PM not to go to Beijing
The majority of Czech cabinet ministers are prepared to advise Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek not to attend the Olympic Games in Beijing, according to the news website Aktualne.cz. The prime minister has said he would let the cabinet decide whether or not it would be appropriate for him to go. According to aktualne.cz the vast majority of ministers would vote against such a move. Education Minister Ondřej Liška is refusing to attend the games in protest of human rights abuse in China and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has appealed to Czech politicians to boycott the games, saying that their presence at the Olympics would represent support for a Chinese regime which has shown itself to be a dictatorship.
Czech woman conquers North Pole
Miluše Netolická has become the first Czech woman to conquer the North Pole. The 34-year old CEO of a Prague-based developer’s corporation was part of a small expedition which reached the North Pole on Wednesday night. A blizzard and freezing temperatures of minus forty degrees Celsius have prevented them from setting out on their return journey. A helicopter is expected to pick them up and take them to the Russian Polar station Barneo as soon as weather conditions allow. The first Czech man to conquer the North Pole was Miroslav Jakeš, who reached it in 1993; he is planning to return there for the sixth time.
Executive jet forced to make emergency landing at Ruzyně
A plane carrying the chairman of the Czech Senate was forced to make an emergency landing in Prague on Thursday due to a technical problem. The executive jet was carrying a delegation of top officials including Deputy Defence Minister Martin Barták, as well as senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka, to Paris for talks with French parliamentarians. All the officials were unharmed in the incident, and were due to fly to the French capital later in the day for the unveiling of an exhibition on the Czech Republic between the wars. The plane had taken off from Prague's smaller Kbely airport, before diverting and being forced to land at the international Prague-Ruzyně airport. The nature of the fault has not been disclosed.
New opera about Milada Horáková opens in Prague
A new opera about Milada Horáková, the only women executed by the communist regime, has opened in Prague. Wednesday night’s premiere at National Theatre’s Kolowrat Theatre has been judged a resounding success, with many plaudits going to actress Soňa Červená, who is 82. Milada Horáková, who resigned her seat in parliament after the communist takeover of 1948, was executed after a show trial in June 1950 after being forced to confess to false charges of conspiracy and treason.
Christian Democrats isolated in their anti-abortion drive
The Christian Democrats of the governing coalition have not found wider support for their drive to restrict abortions in the Czech Republic and allow the father of an unborn baby to have a say on whether the mother should be allowed to undergo an abortion. The Christian Democrats also proposed that abortions should not be performed after the 18th week of pregnancy and that they should never be performed on girls under 18 years of age. Their partners in government - the Civic Democrats and the Greens - have said they find these proposals unacceptable. Public opinion is also against restricting abortions.
Qatari court halts prince’s prosecution over sex abuse in Czech Republic
Qatari prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani, whom a Czech court found guilty of sex with underage girls in 2005 and who was extradited to his homeland shortly after will not face trial in Qatar. The Qatari Prosecutor General has halted his prosecution, Czech Radio reported on Thursday. In 2005 a Prague district court sentenced Prince Sani, a member of the Qatar royal family, to 2,5 years in prison for having had sex with 16 underage girls. He appealed the verdict and was extradited to his homeland shortly after on condition that he would be prosecuted there.
CEZ dealing with strike in Bulgaria
Bulgarian workers for Czech electricity supplier CEZ, which serves Sofia and western Bulgaria, went on strike Thursday demanding higher wages and protesting planned lay-offs. Unions and the company agreed late Wednesday to a 23-percent raise in salaries but talks broke down over additional bonuses and planned personnel cuts. CEZ is legally obliged to continue supplying electricity during strikes and minimum-requirement emergency teams are on stand-by to restore power in case of major blackouts. The Czech utility holds a 67-percent stake in the power grid in western Bulgaria where it has 1.9 million customers.
Czechs disagree with fees for medical services
The majority of Czechs are critical of direct fees for medical services which are part of a broader health reform package introduced as of the beginning of this year. Czechs now have to pay 30 crowns for every visit to the doctor, 60 per day in hospital and 90 for emergency treatment, regardless of paying health insurance. According to a poll conducted by Media Research 82 percent of Czechs feel that payments should not have been introduced across-the-board. Seventy-five percent of respondents said handicapped people should not have to pay, sixty-seven percent said children should be exempted and fifty-eight percent of respondents would exempt pensioners from direct fees.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with intervals of rain and shine and day temperatures reaching 18 degrees Celsius.