The Czech EU presidency has expressed concern about alleged irregularities in Iran’s presidential election. In a statement published on Saturday, the EU presidency noted the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second four- year term, but said it was concerned about the street violence that erupted after the official results were announced. The presidency also said it hopes that Iran will respect its international obligations and enable the resumption of dialogue on nuclear issues. Six major powers, including EU members Britain, France and Germany, have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives in exchange for which they want Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for power plants, or potentially a nuclear weapon.
The former Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel said on Sunday that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the Iranian presidential elections was cause for grave concern. In a statement for the ctk news agency, Mr. Havel said that the combination of modern technology and fanaticism was extremely dangerous. “We all know Mr. Ahmadinejad's statements. They are very dangerous and should lead us to greater vigilance and a deeper, more profound reflection about our civilization, its direction, the potential risks and the power of human obsession. Because what is coming out of Iran now has nothing to do with religion or patriotism, it is pure fanaticism,” Havel said.
Two hundred Czech tourists bound for Turkey were forced to spend the night at Ostrava airport after their flight was cancelled due to technical problems. The flight from Brno to Antalye was making a scheduled stop over at Ostrava airport when Czech Airlines (ČSA) staff announced a several-hour-long delay for technical reasons. When the flight failed to leave at the scheduled hour for a second time some of the tourists said they were no longer willing to make the journey. ČSA staff are dealing with the problem. The ctk news agency reports that on Friday ČSA was forced to cancel a flight bound for Brussels due to technical problems.
Far-right radicals took to the streets in a number of Czech towns over the
weekend to protest against this week’s crack-down on ultra-right groups.
In the town of Most, north of Prague, police dispersed a gathering of
far-right extremists that was not approved by the town hall, detaining 14
people in the process, among them the deputy leader of the Workers Party
Petr Kotab. In Zlín, south Moravia, an extremist march provoked a series
of skirmishes with anarchists. There too police detained several people.
Smaller gatherings also took place in the towns of Havlíčkův Brod,
Mladá Boleslav and Jablonec nad Nisou. Expecting trouble police were out
in force to secure law and order.
On Tuesday, special police units conducted raids on far-right radicals around the country, in what has been described as the biggest anti-extremist operation ever undertaken. Ten people, all members of the National Resistance group, were detained and later charged with promoting a movement aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms. If found guilty, they face up to eight years in prison.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer will pay a brief visit to Great Britain on Monday during which he will meet with his British counterpart Gordon Brown, the ctk news agency reported. The talks are expected to focus on the agenda of next weeks EU leaders summit, the last big event to be held under the EU presidency. The Czech prime minister held a similar meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday.
The Czech Interior Ministry has said it will retaliate in kind for the practice of selected police checks targeted at Czech nationals in German border areas. Although the country joined Schengen in December of 2007, German police are still picking out Czech drivers for thorough inspections involving a detailed search of personal belongings, a strip search and even a request for urine and saliva samples. The Czech Interior Ministry says it has received dozens of complaints from Czech nationals about unwarranted, humiliating treatment at the hands of German police and says it is now ready to respond in kind in the Czech border areas.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Saturday presented the former Hungarian president Arpad Goencz with the Saint Adalbert Prize for Peace, Freedom and Cooperation in Europe. Mr. Goencz could not be present at the ceremony in Prague for health reasons so the award was accepted in his name by his daughter – the Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Goencz. Arpad Goencz received the prize from the Adalbert Stiftung foundation in Krefeld, Germany, for his contribution to Hungary's peaceful path to democracy and his long-time efforts to deepen good neighbourly relations on the continent.
The historic town of Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO world heritage site, is preparing a series of social and cultural events to mark its upcoming 700th birthday. The week-long festivities will start on Monday with a ceremony on the town’s main square and the launch of the summer Five-Petalled Rose Festival. Visitors can look forward to a historic procession through the town, outdoor theatre performances, jousts, concerts and open-air markets. The celebrations will end on Sunday with a big fireworks display.
The police has detained one of two suspects believed to have robbed a dying man. The theft took place after a man in Ostrava collapsed on the street and instead of coming to his aid two young men in the vicinity walked up to him and stole this wallet and mobile phone before making off. Eyewitnesses reported them to the police. The man died shortly after. The youth detained admitted he had taken the man’s mobile but said he though he was just drunk. He has been charged with theft and failing to give first aid. Police are now looking for the second suspect.
The US pharmaceutical company Baxter has started producing a vaccine for the swine flu in one of its plants in the Czech Republic. The firm anticipates that the first batch of vaccines should be ready sometime in August. Full-scale production should be underway in the autumn. The Czech health authorities say they plan to acquire the vaccine for as many people as possible. The EU is recommending that governments acquire the vaccine for thirty-five percent of their country’s inhabitants. In the Czech Republic this would mean 3,5 million people. The Czech authorities currently have anti-viral drugs for 20 percent of the population.
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