Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg says he believes the UN’s resolution on Libya could lead to peace talks. These he says could be complicated by the fact that the Libyan opposition is a highly disparate group. Mr Schwarzenberg has been hesitant regarding the idea of Western military intervention in Libya; he has however condoned the UN resolution to allow aerial intervention on behalf of insurgents. The Libyan regime declared a ceasefire shortly following the resolution, though fighting continued in some areas as of Friday afternoon.
The Foreign Ministry approved five million crowns on Friday for humanitarian aid to Japan. The funds, which equal roughly, come from the ministry’s budget and are intended in part for material aid and in part as a contribution towards the immediate needs of persons in emergency areas. The preparation and provision of material aid will be coordinated by the European Union and will be distributed by a special team that was dispatched to Tokyo on Friday. That group includes one Czech, a member of a fire department rescue service in Hlučín.
Should European militaries eventually intervene in Libya, Czech forces will not be among them, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra has said. Mr Vondra says that Czech Gripen fighter aircraft are not equipped for such an operation and that other participation would be unlikely. Czech government officials have been largely opposed to foreign intervention in recent weeks. President Václav Klaus protested the idea at a recent EU summit on Libya, saying that the establishment of a no-fly zone was tantamount to a declaration of war. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said that his government supports the UN resolution.
The foreign ministry has confirmed that a Belorussian opposition presidential candidate, Ales Michalevič, is in the Czech Republic and has requested political asylum. Mr Schwarzenberg told the daily Právo on Thursday that he expects the authorities should fulfil the request, adding that he knows Mr Michalevič personally and respects his bravery. Ales Michalevič was in prison in Minsk for two months following mass public protests against last year’s election results and claims to have been tortured. He left the country when his passport was confiscated by the secret police.
The Supreme State Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula says that his employee’s decision to issue the military police a warrant to search Czech Television was appropriate; the police, he says, did not did not follow his instructions and recommendations. Mr Rampula told the Czech Press Agency that the proposal to issue the warrant was properly justified and had been accepted by the judge. The attorney in question, Vladimír Muzik had instructed the police to use moderation and avoid the use of armed units without proper explanation. On March 11 around a dozen military police officers, masked and with automatic rifles, stormed the public television building in search of a military intelligence file that was in the possession of a reporter there.
The conference of the Social Democratic Party began on Friday at the exhibition hall in Brno. The roughly 600 Delegates at the conference will be electing the new party leadership, including the chairman. The favourites for the position are acting chairman Bohuslav Sobotka and the governor of the region of South Moravia, Michal Hašek. Mr Sobotka opened the conference with a speech criticising the government coalition for its taxation and pension reform policies and corruption scandals. He also said that the party must create a less negative image and rely less on public opinion surveys.
Former party chairman Jiří Paroubek, who is not attending the conference, has published his own speech, in which he sharply criticises several party figures for laziness, adherence to routine and a lack of fresh ideas. Among other things, he rebukes the party leadership for failing to prepare an alternative pension reform plan and playing into the hands of President Klaus and the coalition. Mr Paroubek resigned his position as party chairman after their unexpectedly poor result in general elections last May. Reportedly, he is not attending the conference because he was invited only at the last moment and not in a manner befitting a former chairman.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek has written an open letter to disabled people explaining his proposals for social welfare reform. In it, the minister seeks to address ‘myths and untruths’ regarding the loss of ‘ZTP”, or special benefits cards and their associated benefits and dispensations. Talks with social welfare partners, non-profit organisations and civic associations regarding the proposal are ongoing, he says. Disabled people’s organisations have declared a public demonstration for March 22 that they believe will be the largest such protest in the last 20 years.
A district court in Prague has approved the arrest of a man charged with raping and murdering nine-year-old Anna Janatková in Prague’s Troya district last October. He was accused on Thursday after police confirmed they had found the child’s remains not far from where she had disappeared last October and her autopsy proved a violent death. The suspect was detained and questioned at the time of her disappearance, but the court ruled there was a lack of evidence for his arrest. Teachers and classmates at the victim’s primary school held a memorial service on Thursday; a team of psychologists and crisis specialists have been sent to the school to assist the bereaved.
Police intend to prepare massive security precautions ahead of a May Day gathering of rightwing youths in the centre of Brno, Chief of Police Petr Lessy announced Friday. Mr Lessy told the Czech Press Agency that officers from other regions would be on site to monitor the event and that he wants to send the message that such groups are unwelcome in Brno, where they have attempted to hold rallies before. The youth association in question is associated with the former Workers’ Party, an extremist organisation that was banned last year.
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