Ahead of a meeting of coalition leaders, junior coalition partner Public Affairs have announced that the party will insist on four ministerial posts in the current three-party coalition government. The party’s de-facto leader Vít Bárta told the daily Právo that unless personnel questions within the coalition are resolved in a satisfactory way, Public Affairs is prepared to leave the government coalition. After a corruption scandal within Public Affairs led the government into a serious crisis in May, the party’s chairman, Radek John, was forced to resign from his post as interior minister. The three coalition parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs, are set to further discuss the cabinet’s personnel on Sunday.
In related news, the deputy chairman of the TOP 09 party, Miroslav Kalousek, said on Saturday that he considered Víta Bárta’s statement regarding personnel changes an ultimatum. Mr. Kalousek, who is one of five TOP 09 ministers in the current three-party, right-of-center government coalition, added that issuing such a statement a day ahead of negotiations with coalition leaders was inappropriate. He said he is not willing to give in to the junior coalition member’s demands.
The 66th Prague Spring international classical music festival comes to a close on Saturday night with a special event – the first performance in the Czech capital in five years by the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestra is conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, husband of Czech opera star Magdalena Kožená. The programme of the Prague Spring, which began on May 12, has featured over three dozen concerts and seven operas. The biggest single event was a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony by 500 musicians at the city’s O2 arena.
The number of shops owned by members of the Czech Republic’s sizable Vietnamese minority has now risen to around 3,000, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported on Saturday. Vietnamese immigrants own corner shops selling mainly foodstuffs, as well as clothing stores and nail salons. Their combined turnover is around CZK 30 billion a year. While in the past the Vietnamese were known for running market stalls, the newspaper said in a few years they would be doing business almost exclusively in bricks and mortar shops.
Some 5000 chickens were killed in a fire in the Opava region, in the north of the country, on Saturday morning, when a chicken farm caught on fire. A spokesman for the local firefighter unit said that the firefighters were able to save another 4000 chickens from the flames. Police are investigating the case.
The Czech Republic’s Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká beat the Indian-Russian pair of Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-3 to win the women’s doubles in tennis’s French Open in Paris on Friday. It was the duo’s fifth title win but their first in a Grand Slam tournament. Remarkably, the unseeded Czechs did not lose one set on their way to victory at Roland Garros.
What is being described as a European first takes place on Saturday, when a Czech men’s soccer league game will be officiated entirely by women. Referee Dagmar Damková and two female assistants Adriana Šecová and Lucie Ratajová – who recently won plaudits for their refereeing of the women’s Champions League final – are overseeing a game between Dukla Prague and Zlín in Czech football’s second tier. Damková has been refereeing men’s games since 2003, when she became the first Czech woman to do so.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas told Friday’s edition of the daily Právo that the centre-right government would most likely not link a June vote of confidence to the government’s key reform bills –as originally planned. The prime minister who had intended for the move to reaffirm the government’s mandate in the wake of a crippling corruption scandal said he no longer considered it a wise move since it might give the opposition the chance to topple the reform government. If the cabinet were to link a vote of confidence to the proposed reform bills it would be bound to push those bills through Parliament within three months of the vote. The prime minister said a safer way of reaffirming the government’s mandate might be to issue a political declaration saying that if Parliament rejected its reform bills the cabinet would resign.
Thousands of believers turned out for the funeral ceremony of Archbishop
Karel Otčenášek in Hradec Kralove on Friday. Several hundred people
crowded into the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on the town’s main square
and those who failed to get in watched the funeral mass on a large screen
on the square. The mass, celebrated by Hradec Kralove bishop Jan Vokal was
attended by politicians, cultural figures and church dignitaries, including
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek and
Health Minister Leos Heger.
Archbishop Karel Otcenasek, a former bishop of Hradec Králové, died on Monday at the age of 91. One of the top figures of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Otčenášek was named a bishop in secret in 1950 and spent more than 10 years in communist prisons. After an amnesty in 1962 he was freed and worked in a dairy plant, only returning to ecclesiastical life in 1965. He became the 23rd bishop of the Hradec Králové diocese, in eastern Bohemia, in 1990, a post he held until his retirement eight years later.
The Czech embassy in Paris has asked France to confirm the diplomatic immunity of the Czech cultural centre in Paris amidst concerns over possible seizers of property in an unresolved arbitration case. Recently the blood plasma technologies and production company Diag Human which claims it is owed close to ten billion crowns by the Czech state in a drawn-out arbitration case successfully applied to a Paris court to order the seizure of Czech assets in France. An Austrian court previously recognized a similar claim resulting in the seizure of Czech artworks in Vienna. The Czech Foreign Ministry said the artwork seizure was in breach of international law.
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