A deal on the conditions under which US soldiers would operate at a radar base in the Czech Republic is very close and should be completed next month, the Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanová, said after talks with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek on Thursday. Mr Topolánek told reporters the status of forces agreement should then be discussed by the Czech Parliament in October. Czech legislators are set to vote on both it and the main treaty on the US radar by the end of this year. In July Prague and Washington signed the main treaty on the radar base, which will be part of an American anti-missile defence shield.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek says the Czech Republic should have taken more than six medals at the Olympic games in Beijing. He said results could have been better at the Olympics, given how much money the Czech state puts into sport. Mr Topolánek also said the problem was that the country had too few top athletes. However, the prime minister praised veteran kayaker Štěpánka Hilgertová, who finished ninth after her boat capsized – he said she had behaved in an “unCzech” way when she risked all for gold and received no medal, rather than being satisfied with settling for silver.
President Václav Klaus has granted a pardon to a man who was being investigated for trying to sell what he said was one of the president’s hip joints by internet auction. The accused, doctor of law Přemysl Donát, set a starting price of CZK 35,000 (just over USD 2,000) for a joint he said had been removed from the president’s body during a hip replacement operation in June. Police began a fraud investigation after the president’s office said the joint was not Mr Klaus’s. But the president has now pardoned the man, so as to bring what a spokesman called an “undignified game” to an end.
The average monthly salary in the Czech Republic grew by 8 percent year-on-year to CZK 23,182 (nearly USD 1,400) in the second quarter of this year. However, inflation is at around 7 percent, meaning the real increase in Czechs’ income is just 1.1 percent, the lowest rise in a decade. Prague is the region with the highest average monthly pay, while Karlovy Vary is the lowest.
Over 26,000 foreigners have gained Czech citizenship since 2001, according to government data released on Thursday. Two-fifths of those who have received Czech citizenship in the last seven years are from the neighbouring state of Slovakia, while Ukrainians make up the second biggest group. The number of new Czech citizens last year was the lowest since 2001.
Prague’s Vietnamese community are planning to build a Buddhist temple within the next three years. The announcement was made after a Buddhist holy day, festival of Vu Lan. Prague’s Buddhists currently make use of a temporary shrine. The Czech Republic’s first Buddhist temple, in Varnsdorf in north Bohemia, was opened in January.
Jan Koller, who holds the record for the most goals scored for the Czech Republic, will not appear for the national team again. The country’s new manager Petr Rada had said he hoped to persuade the 35-year-old to reconsider his decision to retire. However, Koller’s agent said the giant striker would not change his mind and would not be available for the Czech Republic’s World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins with a game against Northern Ireland in a fortnight’s time.
There will be no Czech club in this year’s Champions League, after Slavia Prague were knocked out in the last qualifying round by Fiorentina. Slavia drew away 0:0 with the Italian side on Wednesday, two weeks after losing 2:0 in Prague in the first leg. Sparta Prague also failed to make it into the lucrative competition after going out in the final qualifying round to the Greek club Panathinaikos.
The Czech Republic will seek a united EU stand on maintaining Georgia’s
territorial integrity and assisting its recovery following its conflict
Speaking after an extraordinary Czech government session devoted to the
crisis in the Caucuses, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech
government would strive for the EU to unify around a clear plan for the
recontruction of the whole territory of Georgia and make a strong statement
with regard to its territorial integrity.
The situation in the Caucuses has been further complicated by Moscow’s recognition of the two breakaway Georgian provinces - South Ossetia and Abkhazia - on Tuesday in a move that drew sharp criticism from Western Europe, the United States and NATO.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has likewise condemned the move, saying that it fully respects Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – which includes the two breakaway provinces. The Czech government recently earmarked 150 million crowns to help restore Georgia’s damaged infrastructure and Prague has expressed an interest in hosting an international donors conference which would raise more money for the war-torn country.
Minister Schwarzenberg is to travel to Paris on Thursday to discuss the conflict in the Caucuses with his counterparts Bernard Kouchner of France and Carl Bildt of Sweden. Monday’s EU summit, called by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is to review the conflict and its impact on the European Union's relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, while the Czech Republic will take over in January before handing over to Sweden in July. The Czech Republic will be represented at the summit by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
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