US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and his Czech counterpart Vlasta Parkánová signed an agreement Friday clearing the way for stationing US forces to operate a missile defence radar in the Czech Republic. The status of forces agreement provides the legal basis for the US presence in the Czech Republic, and marks the last piece of more than a year’s negotiation over the radar. Robert Gates called the step “the culmination of a process to draw [the two] nations closer and help protect Europe”. He expressed the hope that the Czech Parliament would now ratify the agreement. The US radar base, paired with 10 interceptor missiles stationed in Poland, aims to counter possible threats by rogue countries, such as Iran. Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkánová said she the missile defence system would make a significant contribution to regional security.
In related news, earlier on Friday the Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin criticised the Czech government regarding the radar plan, saying it had “sold the security of the Czechs" in return for what he described as “a new toy”. He made the statement in an interview for the Czech news agency ČTK, echoing similar criticism by Russia from earlier in the week. The ambassador to NATO stressed that if the project goes ahead as planned, Russia will consider related steps including the aiming of missiles at the Czech Republic. The US administration has maintained its anti-missile defence system is in no way intended against Russia.
Trading on the Prague Stock Exchange on Friday saw a rebound only one day after the bourse, affected by the global financial crisis, closed at a three-year low. Friday’s trading saw shares strengthen at the fastest rate in fifteen years. The headline PX Index gained 11.73 percent to 1316.2 points. Shares of developers Orco and ECM, which plummeted a day earlier, recovered by more than one-tenth by noon. Meanwhile, strong activity focused around the Austrian Erste Group Bank, whose value per share rose by 15 percent to 1,009 crowns. Markets across Europe on Friday responded to the US government’s announced plans on handling the financial crisis: the Fed and the head of the Treasury are currently in negotiation with US Congressional leaders on what could become one of the biggest bailouts in US history.
Rebel Civic Democrat MP Vlastimil Tlustý has filed a criminal complaint against commercial broadcaster TV Nova, for claiming the deputy secretly taped meetings between himself and the prime minister. The MP is seeking an official apology and one million crowns in damages. Mr Tlustý was a key figure in a scandal which erupted on the Czech political scene recently involving alleged entrapment of a colleague in Parliament. On Thursday the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes also reported it had evidence that in the past Mr Tlustý had links to organised crime in the Czech Republic, specifically, to businessman Frantisek Mrázek, who was murdered in 2006. The daily cited police wiretap recordings as evidence of a connection between the two men.
The Supreme State Attorney, Renata Vesecká, has asked the president to pardon the former Communist-era prosecutor Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, for her role in the Stalinist 1950s show trial which saw democratic politician Milada Horáková sentenced to death. Two weeks ago, in appeals proceedings, Mrs Brožová-Polednová was sentenced to six years in prison for participation in judicial murder. The Supreme State Attorney Renata Vesecká told the Czech daily Právo that she had asked for the presidential pardon for the defendant for humanitarian reasons: Mrs Brožová-Polednová is 86 and in poor health.
New analysis covering the Czech labour market between the years 2000 and 2007 released by the Czech Statistical Office has shown that the Czech Republic’s average nominal hourly wage grew in the Czech Republic by 41 percent in real terms – from 71.3 crowns per hour in 2000 to 117.4 crowns last year. The latter amount is the equivalent of around 7 US dollars – far lower than western European countries, the Statistical Office has noted, but higher than the majority of countries that joined the European Union in 2004. The highest average hourly wage in the EU last year was in Denmark.
Four Czech internationals made their mark in UEFA Cup football action on
Thursday. Milan Baroš scored twice for his new club Galatasaray Istanbul
helping his team down Bellinzona 4:3 in Switzerland. FC Copenhagen’s
Libor Sionko and AC Milan’s Marek Jankulowski also scored in their
matches, helping their teams to wins, while Wisla Krakow’s Tomáš
Jirsák also scored but in a losing effort against Tottenham Hotspur.
Czech teams in action on the night came away scoreless. Baník Ostrava lost 2:0 to Spartak Moscow while Sparta Prague and Dinamo Zagreb tied 0:0. Slavia Prague also came with a scoreless draw against SC Vaslui.
Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický will not be returning as yet to his team or the Czech national side, some eight months after the player was sidelined with a leg injury. The Czech media has been speculating about his eventual return as well as the potential threat to his career. It is already known that the player – normally captain of the national squad – will not play in two upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The team’s coach Petr Rada has himself stated he will only await the player’s return after Arsenal give the go-ahead.
The Czech Senate has approved an amendment to the employment act which will allow foreigners to apply for ‘green cards’. The new document will incorporate work and stay permits, and will be issued at Czech embassies in countries approved by the Interior Ministry. Citizens of these countries will be able to apply for jobs in the Czech Republic which had not been filled by Czech or EU nationals within 30 days. The amendment will also tighten conditions for unemployment benefits. If the president approves the amendment, it will enter into force on January 1, 2009.
Phone conversations recorded by the police in 2001 suggest that Civic Democrat MP and critic of the party’s leadership Vlastimil Tlustý was on the payroll of organized crime, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. The unofficial head of Czech organized crime, František Mrázek, talked to one of his aides about paying Mr Tlustý 3 million crowns. Vlastimil Tlustý has denied any contacts with Mr Mrázek, who was murdered in 2006. He has however consistently refused to identify the lender of some 2.3 million crowns, or nearly 140,000 US dollars, which he used to build his house.
Czech Republic opens up to more tourists from Europe and beyond as coronavirus travel restrictions eased
Brno scientists pair with Czech biotech firm to develop healing artificial tears
Czech nation pays tribute to Milada Horáková on 70th anniversary of her judicial murder
Facemask requirement eased but new restrictions for area hit by spike in Covid-19 cases
Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break