Too soon to say when radar deal could be agreed, says Topolánek
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, says suggestions that a deal to allow a US radar base to be built in the Czech Republic could be announced in the very near future are premature. A Pentagon spokesperson was quoted on Tuesday as saying a treaty could be agreed in the next few weeks. However, Mr Topolánek told reporters on Wednesday that it would not be possible to comment on the progress of negotiations until after further meetings between both sides next week. He repeated earlier comments that Prague was interested in a quality rather than a speedy deal with Washington. The US would like to build a radar base in central Bohemia as part of a global anti-missile defence system. Prime Minister Topolánek had previously said the Czech Parliament would vote on the matter after a NATO summit in April. His government backs the US plan; polls suggest up to 70 percent of Czech citizens are opposed.
Government agency to combat ghettoisation
The government is to create a special body aimed at combating the existence of ghettos in the Czech Republic. The new agency will operate in 12 places in Bohemia and Moravia and aims to turn ghettos, which are mostly populated by Romany citizens, into ordinary districts. It will focus on increasing co-operation between local authorities, schools, the police, labour offices, NGOs, companies and local people. The plan was devised by the minister for minorities and human rights, Džamila Stehlíková, and was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. Around 300 districts and even individual apartment buildings in the Czech Republic have been classed as ghettos; inhabitants suffer from a range of social problems, including high unemployment.
Government approves bill to end property dispute with churches
The government has approved a bill aimed at settling property disputes between the state and Czech churches. Under the new law, the state would pay CZK 83 billion in compensation for church property nationalised during the communist regime. With interest, the sum will reach almost CZK 270 billion, the Czech News Agency reported. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek described the move as an historical breakthrough and unique opportunity, though the head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Archbishop Miloslav Vlk, has said the settlement mainly favours the state. If approved by parliament and signed by the president, the bill would take effect as of 2009.
New-born baby found in dumpster taken home by adoptive parents
A new-born baby discovered abandoned in a rubbish container has been brought home by his new adoptive parents. The child has been adopted following a two-month period in which his biological parents could have come forward and claimed him. The boy, named Vendelín Čtvrtek by carers, was discovered by chance by a homeless man in the middle of December.
Far-right march organiser was member of governing Civic Democrats
The organiser of a neo-Nazi march banned by the authorities in Plzeň was a member of the governing Civic Democrats, the news website iDnes.cz reported. A spokesperson for the party said Václav Bureš had been expelled in January, after it emerged that he was behind the march, which was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the first transport of Jews from the city in 1942. The far-right gathering was banned last Thursday, two days before it was due to take place. In the end around 200 neo-Nazis attended a demonstration in Prague, which passed off peacefully.
Almost 3,000 expelled from Prague night transport in 2007
Prague police kicked around 2,800 people off night trams and buses in the city last year, a senior police official said on Wednesday. Passengers were mainly removed for being drunk, unruly behaviour and wearing dirty clothes. Patrols of Prague’s night transport network were doubled last year. Many of those expelled from night trams and buses are homeless; the city’s police are currently considering establishing a special unit focused on dealing with homeless people.
Sparta captain Pospěch leaves for Copenhagen
Sparta Prague football club have lost their captain: defender Zdeněk Pospěch, who is 29, signed a three and a-half-year contract with FC Copenhagen on Wednesday. Pospěch will link up with fellow Czech international Libor Sionko at the Danish club.
It should get slightly cooler over the next few days, with temperatures of up to 6 degrees Celsius. We can expect some sunny spells and rain in places.