News

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Czech Republic celebrates independence anniversary

The Czech Republic commemorates the 89th anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. President Vaclav Klaus laid wreaths on Sunday to the grave of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founder of Czechoslovakia and its first president. A commemorative ceremony will be held on Sunday evening at Prague Castle where distinguished Czech personalities will be decorated. Among those who will receive awards are Anna Honova, an anti-communist resistance fighter, Marie Goretti Boltnarova, a member of the catholic order of Sisters of Mercy, Second World War veteran Stanislav and visual artist Oldrich Kulhanek who designed the currently used Czech banknotes.

Military students took oath

In related news, 250 students of the Brno Defence University took the oath on Sunday in Hradcanske namesti outside Prague Castle as part of the celebrations of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. The oath was attended by President Vaclav Klaus, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova, Chief of General Staff Vlastimil Picek and the heads of both chambers of the Parliament.

Environment Minister urges CEZ to change investment policy

Environment Minister Martin Bursik said on Sunday that the major Czech energy producer CEZ should focus on local investments rather than seek acquisitions on foreign markets. The state-owned energy giant has been recently investing in Poland, Bulgaria and Rumania, but according to Mr Bursik, it does nothing for its Czech customers. Last week, CEZ bid in a tender to construct two blocks of a nuclear power plant in Romania. Mr Bursik, who is also deputy prime minister and Green Party leader, criticized the company for not investing enough into refits of their coal-powered plants in the Czech Republic.

Parties closer to presidential candidate agreement

Chairman of opposition Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek and the head of the coalition Green Party Martin Bursik told Czech TV on Sunday that an agreement is much closer on a candidate to run for the president's office against incumbent Vaclav Klaus. Their parties might agree on Czech-born economist Jan Svejnar who is currently a professor at the University of Michigan in the US. The current president's term will expire in February next year which is when the elections will be held. The Czech Presidents has to gain a majority of 141 votes of the two chambers of the Parliament.

Greens still seek education minister candidate

Green Party head Martin Bursik met with regional leaders of his party in Prague on Saturday to discuss a suitable candidate for the position of the education minister. The Green leaders however failed to reach any agreement on who should replace Dana Kuchtova who had held the post but was forced to resign a month ago for failing to draw on EU funds. The Green Party had previously come up with Dusan Luzny as a possible candidate but Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek rejected Mr Luzny as the new education minister.

Nine new countries ready to join Schengen zone

Nine new EU countries are ready to join the Schengen zone of free travel on 21st December, according to the Prague Declaration, a document adopted by interior ministers and other representatives of EU countries who met in Prague on Friday and Saturday. The declaration says that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are well prepared for abolishing border checks on their frontiers with other Schengen zone members, and enter the free-travel area on 21st December this year. Some old Schnegen zone members, such as Austria, are however considering policing their borders with the acceding countries even after this date.

'A Town Called Hermitage' wins documentary film festival in Jihlava

Film entitled 'A Town Called Hermitage' won the prize for the best Czech documentary at the International Documentary Film Festival in Jihlava. The film by Ondrej Provaznik and Martin Dusek concentrates on a town called Poustevna (Hermitage) and describes the border region in the north of the Czech Republic, formerly known as Sudetenland. Its original German-speaking population was expelled after WWII and replaced by ethnic Czechs.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech wins dispute against Sun reporter

Petr Cech, the goalkeeper for Chelsea FC and the Czech national football team, has won a court dispute against Kelvin MacKenzie, a reporter for British daily the Sun. The court ruled that Mr MacKenzie inaccurately described a dog fight between the pets of Mr MacKanzie's girlfriend and Mrs Cech. Mr Cech is to be compensated with 30,000 pounds; he said he would distribute the amount among a hospital and a charitable fund in the UK.

Toronto's Pavel Kubina scored to win over Rangers

Czech defender Pavel Kubina score a goal and marked two assists in a NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leaves and the New York Rangers. Toronto won the match 4:1 although the first goal of the night was scored by Rangers' captain Jaromir Jagr. Another Czech defender for Toronto Tomas Kaberle registered two assists and was declared the best player of the game.

Weather

It is expected to be overcast at the start of the next week with occasional rain showers, mainly in the western regions of the country. Temperatures should reach 9 to 13 degrees Celsius.