News

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Civic Democrat MEPs abstain in vote on Lisbon Treaty report

MEPs from the biggest party in the Czech coalition government the Civic Democrats abstained in a vote on the Treaty of Lisbon at the European Parliament on Wednesday. A report on the document being debated by MEPs expressed regret that some elements of an earlier failed EU constitution were not preserved in the Lisbon Treaty, which has replaced it. Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, a senior Civic Democrat, said that expression of regret meant the report ran counter to the Czech government’s position. However, Czech Social Democrat MEP Libor Rouček described the Civic Democrats’ position as embarrassing, given that the party leads the Czech government, which has signed the treaty.

The Czech Republic will hold the rotating presidency of the EU in the first half of 2009, when the Treaty of Lisbon may come into effect, if it has been ratified by all member states by the end of this year.

First military parade in decades set for anniversary of foundation of Czechoslovakia

Prague is set to see its first large military parade since the fall of communism on October 28, the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The minister of defence, Vlasta Parkanová, said she herself had been cool on the idea initially, as it brought to mind communist-era shows of strength. Minister Parkanová said, however, that a parade of elite soldiers, rescue units, police and fire fighters would remind the public of their aim, the security of the citizen.

Topolánek to visit Canada after talks in US next week

The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, will make a two-day visit to Canada at the end of next week, the official website of his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, announced. Both leaders are due to discuss their countries’ joint operations in Afghanistan and participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Mr Harper’s website said. Mr Topolánek will travel to Ottawa and Toronto after visiting Washington, where next Wednesday he will hold talks with US President George Bush.

Christian Democrats to raise direct presidential vote with coalition partners

The Christian Democrats are to raise the question of direct presidential elections with the other parties in the governing coalition, the Civic Democrats and the Greens. The party say they would like moves towards changing the constitution to allow a public vote to be made as quickly as possible. The Christian Democrats’ call comes after a recent bitterly fought parliamentary vote in which Václav Klaus was re-elected Czech president. The biggest party in the coalition the Civic Democrats are in favour of maintaining the current system. By contrast, the Greens and the Social Democrats are in favour of a direct vote, while the Communists say they could also back the change, if there were a cap on campaign spending.

Social Democrat rebel Snítilý refusing to give up seat in lower house

Evžen Snítilý, who went against the Social Democrats’ party line and voted for Václav Klaus in last Friday’s presidential election, says he has no plans to give up his seat in the Chamber of Deputies. Mr Snítilý was immediately expelled from the party’s deputies group after signalling his intention to vote for Mr Klaus, with senior Social Democrats accusing him of corruption. He has rejected party calls for him to step down as a deputy, saying he had no reason to do so. Mr Snítilý says he remains a Social Democrat at heart; however, party leaders are reportedly worried he may join two other rebels who crossed the floor to support the governing coalition after the last elections.

Roman Catholic priest gets suspended sentence for child abuse

A Czech Roman Catholic priest has received a suspended sentence for child sexual abuse. Zbyněk Schneider, who is 39, was also found guilty of spreading child pornography on the internet. The priest, who worked at a Catholic youth centre in Plzeň, admitted to downloading child pornography but denied disseminating it, abusing young girls and taking photographs of them.

Woman kills husband after argument over what music to play

A woman from Ostrava has received a 10-and-a-half-year jail sentence for killing her husband after an argument about what music to play. Petra Mináriková stabbed her husband to death at her 39th birthday party after he insisted on putting on a CD by the heavy metal group AC/DC; she had wanted to listen to the Slovak singer Pavol Habera.

Mole creator Miler celebrating 87th birthday

Zdeněk Miler, the creator of the world famous cartoon character Mole (Krtek), is celebrating his 87th birthday on Wednesday. He worked as a cartoonist at the Baťa film studio in Zlín during the war, before launching his most famous creation in 1957 in a film entitled How the Mole Got His Trousers. Mr Miler made around 70 films before retiring in 2002.

Winter may be over as meteorologists predict mild month

The next 30 days are likely to be unseasonably warm and rather wet, meteorologists said on Wednesday. Day-time temperatures will frequently be around 10 centigrade. Dagmar Honsová of Prague’s Meteopress told the news website Novinky.cz that it really seemed as if this winter was now coming to an end.

Weather

It should gradually get warmer in the next few days, reaching a maximum of around 11 degrees Celsius. It will be partly cloudy with some sunny spells and occasional rain.