The lower house of the Czech Parliament officially recognized the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, when deputies voted to acknowledge the treaty on which the court was founded. The Czech Republic was the only EU state not to have recognised the international court, which handles serious crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Czech parliament was reluctant to pass the agreement earlier due to doubts whether it was consistent with the Czech constitutional order and the protection of Czech citizens by the state. It was approved by the Senate in July of this year.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday opened a debate on two Czech-US treaties setting the legal framework for the siting of a US tracking radar on Czech soil. Along with ten interceptor missiles in Poland the tracking radar in the Brdy military area, southwest of Prague, would form part of a broader US missile defense shield intended to protect the United States and a large part of the European continent against missile attacks from states like Iran. The centre-right government on Wednesday won a motion for Parliament to open debate on the two treaties despite fierce opposition from the left-wing parties. A vote is expected to take place some time in December and due to a number of rebels in the governing coalition its outcome is uncertain.
Meanwhile contrary to expectations, the Senate has postponed its debate on the US radar until December, when the upper chamber will reflect the outcome of last weekend’s elections to a third of the Senate. Senate chairman Přemysl Sobotka of the Civic Democrats said that his party had initiated the delay for ethical reasons since in the present set up it could be accused of taking an unfair advantage. The Civic Democrats, the strongest party in government, suffered a crushing defeat in the elections losing nine mandates. However with 44 seats in the upper chamber the governing coalition should still have enough votes to get the radar treaties approved.
The Czech Republic ranks 14th on a list of states whose consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal. A World Wildlife Fund report said on Wednesday that Earth's natural resources were being depleted so quickly that "two planets" would be required to sustain current lifestyles within a generation. Emissions from fossil fuels were among the top culprits cited. The United States and Australia rank among the five countries with the largest environmental “footprint” per person, along with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Denmark.
The association of Muslims living in the Czech Republic is preparing to file a lawsuit in connection with the screening of the controversial film Fitna at a neo-Nazi gathering in the centre of Prague on Tuesday. The film by the ultra-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders is a denunciation of Islam as a fundamentalist religion that incites violence against other cultures. Tuesday’s gathering in the city centre was organized by the ultra-right National Party and was eventually dissolved by the police on the grounds of its racist and xenophobic content. Thirteen people were detained for questioning. The association of Czech Muslims said it would ask the Interior Ministry to review the party’s registration on the grounds that its statutes alone are in violation of the law.
Olympic skiing champion Kateřina Neumannová has won a lawsuit against a construction firm which featured her in one of its ads without obtaining her permission. The firm was ordered to apologize and pay Neumannová 450,000 crowns in damages. Kateřina Neumannová, who now heads the preparations for next year’s World Ski Championship in Liberec, said the ads, which appeared in a number of nationwide dailies, had complicated her talks with sponsors.
The Indian lawyer of the amateur Czech entomologist Emil Kučera who jumped bail and fled the country after getting a three year jail sentence for illegal insect collecting has said he would ask for an international arrest warrant to be issued against his client. Kučera, 52, was traveling with a professional entomologist when they were arrested on charges of insect collecting in the Singalia National Park, a protected nature reserve. The two men said they had never entered the park. Švácha, a renowned scientist was released, while Kučera got three years for the same offense. He said he had escaped India, after appealing the verdict, because he did not believe he could get a fair trial in Darjeeling.
Stock prices on the Prague Stock Exchange surged on Wednesday, pulling the headline PX index up 10.37 percent to 772.40 points. The jump was bigger than strong rises in early trading elsewhere in Europe. Shares in the electricity company ČEZ surged 19.2 percent, stock in Unipetrol rose 13.0 percent and in Komerční Banka 12.3 percent.
The opposition Social Democrats would win a landslide victory in general elections if they were held today, according to a survey conducted by the CVVM agency. According to a poll released Wednesday the main opposition party would get 40 percent of the vote while the ruling Civic Democrats would get a mere 26,5 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats who won a resounding victory in the recent regional and Senate elections have strengthened their position by six percent compared to September.
The Czech Republic has seen its largest military parade for more than twenty years. The event comes as the country marks the 90 year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s foundation as an independent state. The parade, which took place in Prague’s Evropská Street was attended by the Czech president Václav Klaus and also Defence Minister Vlasta Parkánova. An estimated 2000 people were in attendance, with around 200 items of military hardware on display. A number of Gripen fighter jets also flew over the site of the parade. No similar-sized event has been held in the democratic Czech Republic, as the connotations with similar displays during the communist era were thought to be too strong – a much smaller display, however, did occur in 2005. Not only military hardware and personnel were on display, but also members of the police, fire and ambulance services.
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