News

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Minister Vondra says no radar might mean compulsory military service

The Czech Republic might have to reintroduce compulsory military service if it refuses to host a controversial US tracking radar system, European Affairs Minister Alexandr Vondra warned in a televised debate on Sunday. Czech compulsory military service ended in 2005 partly because the country could rely on its NATO membership and support from allies for its defence in an emergency. But that support might not be so forthcoming if the Czech Republic refused to host the proposed radar system, Vondra warned.

Washington wants to site a radar base on Czech territory and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland, to counter a possible missile attack from Iran. The US proposal has angered Russia, created rifts within NATO and split Czech and Polish public opinion. Around two-thirds of Czechs oppose the radar, according to opinion polls. On Saturday close to two thousand people demonstrated against the radar in the streets of Prague. The demonstration came less than two weeks before U.S. President George Bush's scheduled visit to Prague intended to drum up support for the missile shield.

Green Party has not rejected US radar base outright

The Green Party's national council which met to take an official stand to the US radar base on Sunday did not reject it outright but recommended that the Czech Republic's final decision on the base be closely consulted with the EU and NATO. The Green Party is divided on the issue, and some of its members insist that the matter should be decided in a national referendum. The Green Party's regional organization in Pilsen is pushing for an extraordinary national party conference which they hope would change the party's official stand. The Greens are the only coalition party with strong reservations to the US radar base.

Social Ministry wants more effective system of child protection

The Ministry of Social Affairs will propose changes to the law and the system of child protection, following a highly publicized case of child abuse in which a mother who abused her own child was allowed to adopt a child who had virtually no identity. Although it later emerged that the judge had been duped by a sect and had given a new identity to a thirty two year old woman, the ministry is said to be shocked by the fact that a proper investigation was not undertaken to determine who the alleged child was and where she'd come from. The ministry also criticized the fact that social workers do not monitor families who have adopted a child. Social workers are no longer under central control, so the Social Affairs Ministry cannot order them to investigate suspected abuse cases. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek recently proposed the creation of a new National Office for Employment and Social Care to co-ordinate the system of child protection.

New project aimed at curbing illegal migration

Migrants who have entered the country illegally might in future be allowed to stay if they cooperate with the authorities and disclose the name of their smuggler. That is the main idea behind an interior ministry project aimed at reducing illegal migration. Ever since borders opened in 1989 the Czech Republic has become a transit state for illegal migrants from the east seeking a better life in Western Europe. The Czech authorities have been under growing pressure from Austria and Germany to take more effective measures against people smuggling.

European beer lovers' call for Czechs to save state brewery

A Europe-wide grouping of beer lovers has called on Czechs to lobby their government not to privatise the country's third largest brewery, Budejovicky Budvar. "Czech citizens should petition their government to ensure that Budvar remains a state asset and stays that way for the next century," the president of the European Beer Consumers Union Terry Lock, said at a news conference in Prague at the end of a two-day meeting. The centre-right Czech government announced the first step towards privatising Budvar at the beginning of April when Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic announced that the brewery would be transformed into a shareholder company.

Thirteen fully functional grenades found near Olomouc

Thirteen fully functional artillery grenades from the Second World War were uncovered on the outskirts of a forest near Olomouc, Moravia, on Sunday. The grenades were buried less than a meter underground and were found by a man who was inspecting the terrain. Bomb disposal experts who were called to the site said it was fortunate that the grenades had been found by someone who recognized them and did not attempt to dig them out.

Techno party passes without incident

A two day techno party near Dobra Voda, in the Pelhrimov district, passed without incident, the police said on Sunday. The party attracted some 700 people. It was officially approved and took place on private property. The mayor of Dobra Voda, Zdenek Smrka said he had no complaints whatsoever and that negotiations with the party organizers had been exemplary. Open air techno parties in the Czech Republic usually spark controversy and complaints about noise pollution. The most controversial event took place in West Bohemia in 2005 when 1,000 riot police dispersed thousands of techno fans with tear gas and water cannon. The police was later criticized for excessive use of force.

The Fringe Festival

The 6th Prague Fringe Festival opens on Sunday and is set to unveil its biggest ever programme. The 'Fringe' will stage 242 performances from 41 companies and individuals between May 27th and June 3rd at eight Mala Strana venues. Organisers have selected some of the best and most innovative theatre productions from around the world to add to the Czech talent on offer. There are more than 50 similar Fringe festivals around the globe, based on the original Edinburgh Festival Fringe, now in its 59th year. The unique characteristic is that they offer a sociable way to experience new and international theatre.

International Film Festival for Children and Youth opens in Zlin

The 47th Zlin International Film Festival for Children and Youth opens in the town of Zlin on Sunday, May 27th. Festival visitors can enjoy the best of contemporary film for young audiences, attend events with both Czech and foreign filmmakers and choose from a rich supporting programme. 360 films from 40 countries will be screened between now and next Sunday. With almost 50 years of continual history the festival is among the oldest in the world.

Weather

A belt of rain moving across the Czech Republic is expected to break the current heat-wave. The next few days are expected to be rainy and overcast with daytime temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius.