The opposition Social Democrats have slammed the government for conducting a two-track foreign policy. The verbal attack came shortly after the cabinet rejected minister Schwarzenberg’s foreign policy concept for allegedly being too pro-European. The criticism came from the ranks of the Civic Democratic Party and was supported by President Vaclav Klaus. Shadow foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek said it was high time to address this lack of unity in Parliament. Mr. Zaoralek said he had information from reliable sources that Czech embassies abroad often received two sets of different instructions –one lot from the foreign ministry and another from the office of the government.
In an interview for the internet daily novinky.cz on Saturday Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg of TOP 09 admitted that he and the Civic Democrats sometimes differed on foreign policy issues, but he said he was fully in control of the reins. Asked whether President Klaus’s eurosceptic views did not create difficulties in how the country’s foreign policy was perceived abroad, Mr. Schwarzenberg said the president was fully entitled to his views within a democratic debate. The Czech foreign minister has made it clear he would not budge on his foreign policy stand, telling Novinky.cz that the Czech Republic should stop playing enfant terrible in the EU and instead actively partake in a constructive debate.
A police investigator from the town of Varnsdorf was found to have been assembling sensitive data relating to private phone conversations made by well-known figures such as the head of the Constitutional Court, judge Pavel Rychetsky, or CEZ manager Daniel Rous. The officer claims he requested the information in connection with a people-trafficking case he was working on. However the daily Mlada fronta Dnes which broke the story says the case was merely an excuse for the officer to get to the respective data. It is not clear if he was collecting the data for a third party. The case is being investigated.
President Klaus hosted a small party at Prague Castle on Friday evening to celebrate his 70th birthday with a select group of good friends and close associates, after official celebrations planned for Thursday had to be cancelled due to a nationwide transport strike. At the event, President Klaus was presented with a book of essays -Festschrift -put together for him by over 50 well-known personalities - present and former politicians, economists, philosopher and cultural figures. Among them are former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, American economist Gary Becker, Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka, prime minister Petr Necas, former German president RomanHerzog and Nigel Lawson – British Chancellor of the Exchequer.
A wedding celebration ended in tragedy for a newly-wed Czech couple in Prague on Friday. During the celebration the newly-weds walked out onto a 3rd floor balcony from which they both fell. The bride was killed on impact the groom is in critical condition. The cause of the tragedy is being investigated. A police spokesman told journalists the couple were not drunk when the incident occurred.
Passengers of an intercity bus that got stuck on the rail tracks at a crossing near the town of Plzen had a miraculous escape –managing to get off the bus just moments before it was swept off the tracks by an oncoming train. The accident left only two people lightly injured – the bus driver who failed to get off in time and a train passenger who was standing in the alley when the impact occurred. The driver says he was crossing the tracks when his engine failed and the gates went down on either side. He quickly ordered the passengers to disembark and the last one left the bus just seconds before the oncoming train hit it, ploughing the vehicle for approximately 50 metres before grinding to a halt.
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova will face sixth-seeded Marion Bartoli in the
final of the Wimbledon warm-up grasscourt championships in Eastbourne
both had relatively easy semi-final wins on Saturday. Both matches were
delayed after rain washed out play on Friday.
Left-handed Czech Kvitova, seeded eight at Wimbledon, led the in-form Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-6 (9-7) before the match was halted in the second set, which she was leading 4-2, when Hantuchova retired with an abdominal strain. Kvitova is seeking her fourth WTA title of the year.
The Czech government has rejected the country’s foreign policy concept proposed by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on the grounds that it was too pro-European, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Friday. At the cabinet’s session on Wednesday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra criticized the concept for failing to take into account the ongoing crisis of the Eurozone as well as the Czech Republic’s opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. President Václav Klaus also slammed the policy document for similar reasons. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the daily he was ready to complement the concept but under no circumstance would he change his European policy.
The police have filed charges against two people in connection with Thursday’s trade union strike, police spokeswoman Eva Kopáčová told the CTK news agency on Friday. One is a woman who assaulted a police officer in a skirmish outside the Czech Finance Ministry; the other is a man who smashed the glass doors to the metro in a fit of rage after finding it closed for the day. The police spokeswoman said there had only been one serious incident in the course of the day-long protest a skirmish outside the Finance Ministry when Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek unexpectedly walked out to talk to talk to demonstrators. He was showered with insults and in some cases tomatoes and eggs, though none hit their target. It was then that a member of the anti-conflict team present was assaulted by one of the protesters who hit him over the head with a megaphone. She could face up to four years in prison.
The anti-corruption police has shelved the case against the former environment minister Pavel Drobil on the order of state attorney Šárka Pokorná. The reason cited was that the available evidence did not give grounds to start criminal proceedings against the former top official. Drobil resigned in disgrace in late 2010 after being caught on tape dangling a promotion before whistleblower Libor Michálek, the head of the State Environment Fund, in exchange for Michálek destroying evidence that pointed to systemic kickbacks within the ministry that were redirected into a Civic Democratic Party slush fund. Michálek was later fired. Drobil resigned, and the events spurred the first in a series of government crises.
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Traditional tourist sites open to visitors after long break
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