News

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Czech Greens agree on successor to education minister

Leading members of the Czech Green Party met in Brno on Sunday to find a successor to Education Minister Dana Kuchtova, who resigned last week. The party's leadership supported the nomination of Dusan Luzny, Ms. Kuchtova's former deputy at the Education Ministry. The leader of the Green Party, Martin Bursik stipulated, however, that further negotiations in the party leadership and deputy group will be needed before any final decision is made. Mr Bursik said the new minister has to convince the deputies and prime minister that he can deal with the problems left over by former minister Kuchtova, mainly with the botched application for the EU funds for research and educational programmes.

Green activist campaigns for marihuana legalisation

One of the Green's regional leaders, Jaroslav Penc, is fighting for legalisation allowing marihuana cultivation. Mr Penc had 5,000 posters printed for his campaign, featuring himself among hemp plants in front of his house under the headline "Live Healthily, Think Freely." Former dissident Penc says he wants to open up a debate on marihuana in connection with a new penal law prepared by the government. According to the draft law it would be illegal to cultivate marihuana without a permit. Mr Penc argues that a high number of people use hemp for medical reasons or for relaxing effects and there is no sense to criminalise them. After confessing that he himself is a hemp cultivator, he now faces a police investigation.

Experts: planned US radar safe

Electromagnetic radiation generated by a US radar - planned for the Czech Republic - is less than that caused by a mobile phone, say Czech experts. They have been investigating the possible impact of a planned US base in the Brdy military area. Even in "emergency mode" the radar would still comply with existing norms. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said it would be up to the US military when to activate the radar. The opposition Social Democrats argue, however, that the study was done carelessly and contains factual errors.

Secret information leaks from Czech counter-intelligence agency

A list of people cooperating with the civil intelligence services has been leaked by sources within the Economic Department of the Czech counter-intelligence agency BIS, the Aktualne.cz news website reported. The department focuses on the state's economic interest and deals with such issues as data security during privatisations, checking of applicants for state orders and monitoring the activities of financial groups. The data have already leaked into business circles. The person responsible for the leak is not yet known but it is clear that it must have been an employee of the Czech counter-intelligence service, the website reported.

Czech president awarded by Austrians living abroad

Czech president Vaclav Klaus received an award from the Association of Austrians living abroad on Monday. The award is in recognition of his contribution to the liberation of Central Europe and supporting free market. Mr Klaus, who received the award on a private visit to Vienna, is also scheduled to attend an international scientific conference to present his position on climate change in the modern world. The Czech head of state has repeatedly claimed that the current increase in global temperature is relatively small and its impacts on society are negligible.

Havel suggests Czech state and church to rotate St Vitus cathedral

The Czech state and the church should annually rotate the management of St Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle, former Czech president Vaclav Havel has proposed in an attempt to bring a solution to the ongoing dispute over the cathedral's ownership. Under Havel's plan, the cathedral and the nearby premises should be turned into a company managed by a ten-member board, consisting of five politicians and five church dignitaries. The head of the state and the Czech archbishop would annually rotate chairing the board. The two are however reserved to the proposal. The dispute over the most visited Czech church has been going on for more than 14 years. According to the last court ruling two weeks ago the cathedral will remain in the ownership of the state. However, the church has appealed the verdict.

Havel: Peace in Burma may be only imaginary

The current peace in Burma may be only imaginary and people shouldn't get lulled by it, former Czech president Vaclav Havel said at the Forum 2000 conference on Monday. Mr Havel also called on the conference participants to sign a petition in support of the Burmese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Forum 2000 Conference held under the auspices of Vaclav Havel started in Prague on Sunday, attracting prominent figures from all over the world. The theme for this 11th Forum is 'Freedom and Responsibility', and guests include former US Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright, Nobel peace-prize winner Shirin Ebadi, and former head of the World Bank Paul Wolfowitz. The conference will run until Tuesday.

Czech Republic to promote itself through website and gifts

The Czech Republic will launch an official website during its presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2009. The website will present the country and provide information in the ongoing agenda of the EU Council, joint declarations, speeches, upcoming events and other events. The internet pages in Czech, English and French versions will be officially launched on 1st January 2009, when the country takes over the EU presidency. The Czech Republic will also present itself by promotional items such as ties, pens or culinary products that will be distributed to EU officials and journalists. The Czech government has earmarked over 30 million crowns for the gifts.

Ekofilm festival gets underway in Ceske Budejovice

The 33rd annual Ekofilm festival got underway in the South-Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice on Monday. The film show is entirely devoted to environmental issues and natural and cultural heritage. It is one of the oldest festivals of its kind in Europe. In addition to film screenings, Ekofilm offers various seminars, discussions with film-makers and other events. The festival will move to a nearby town of Cesky Krumlov on Wednesday.

Weather

The coming days are expected to be mostly sunny with temperatures reaching the daytime highs between 12 and 14 degrees Celsius.