Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has arrived in Prague for meetings with Czech political leaders. With Poland now holding the rotating EU presidency, top of the agenda will be European politics. Much of the Polish cabinet has also accompanied the prime minister for wide-ranging consultations with their Czech counterparts as part of a string of visits to neighbouring countries. Poland is primarily seeking Czech support for the top-priority plans of its presidency, namely regarding the EU budget for 2013 to 2020 and the strengthening of the solidarity policy that funds the poorest parts of the union. Mr Tusk is meeting with his Czech counterpart Petr Nečas in the morning and will later be received by President Klaus at Prague Castle.
The prime ministers Donald Tusk and Petr Necas told reporters on Friday that that they want to promote the view that energy security in Europe cannot be based only on renewable resources and that they support the use of nuclear energy. The two leaders said they want to be a counterbalance to countries like Germany, which plans to stop using nuclear energy, and Austria which has already rejected such plants, and form a "common-sense front". They also discussed bilateral relations and possible cooperation in energy, including nuclear power plants.
The European Commission has begun investigating Czech power giant ČEZ on suspicion of restricting competition on the domestic energy market. The commission is examining whether ČEZ built up capacities in its network in order to prevent the entry of competitive companies on the market. Brussels has suspected CEŽ of restricting competition at least since 2009, when commission inspectors raided the company’s headquarters. If found guilty, the company could face a fine of tens of billions of crowns and the sale of part of its property.
A Viennese court has satisfied the demand of Swiss company Diag Human to freeze the transfer of three Czech artworks being held in judicial limbo as collateral for damages. The two paintings and one sculpture by Czech modernist artists will therefore not be returned to the Czech Republic until the company’s appeal is reviewed. Diag Human is suing the Czech state for over 500 million US dollars for allegedly thwarting its blood plasma business in the country in the 1990s. The Viennese court seized the artworks as compensation, but later overruled its decision on the grounds that they were exempt from seizure as cultural property. The works of art had been on loan for an exhibition in Vienna when they were seized.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is preparing to submit a new foreign policy proposal to the government at its next meeting on July 20. His previous policy statement was shot down primarily by the prime minister and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra, who saw the text as being too “pro-European”. To what extent the new policy statement will deal with the EU is unclear, as Mr Nečas’ office is now preparing its own materials. Mr Schwarzenberg countered criticism of his previous version of the document, saying that the relationship with the EU was no longer a question of “us and them”.
The Ministry of the Interior has launched a website that is to serve as a centre for reporting cyber-attacks. The government-level gateway – govcert.cz – is intended to increase the security and reliability of the internet. The ministry also reports it has completed a strategy for Czech Cybernetic Security for the years 2011 to 2015 which the government will discuss. The key themes of that strategy ate coordination, timeliness and comprehensive solutions for cyber-security issues.
A powerful thunderstorm that hit Bohemia on Wednesday uprooted more than 20,000 trees in the Šumava National Park. The park management reports that the destruction marks the worst calamity in the national forest since hurricane Kyrill struck in 2007.Most of the trees were spruce and more than half of them fell in a single area near the village of Srní. The fallen timber can however also be used in the fight against the bark beetle that has ravaged the park; managers say they will leave the wood on the ground until the beetles take hold and remove it then. Wednesday’s storm also brought an unusually high number of lightning strikes; the meteorological institute recorded some 60,000 flashes of lightning, nearly half of the monthly average.
Elsewhere in the Šumava, environmental activists have begun a campaign of physically blocking certain areas to prevent the logging of bark beetle infested trees. The Hnutí Duha organisation says that the park management does not have the exemption required to cut in the forest but has already marked some 3000 trees in the area. The organisation says there is a risk of large clearings being left in area inhabited by threatened species. The park management and the Environmental Ministry have rejected the criticism. Police visited the site of the protest Friday and found no violation as the activist sit waiting for loggers to arrive in coming days.
A child has been born to a woman with a transplanted heart for the first time in the Czech Republic. Both the baby girl and the mother are in good health, the Czech Press Agency reports. The 30-year-old woman underwent a heart transplant two and a half years ago due to cardiomyopathy, by which the muscle of the heart deteriorates and ceases to function. She had not intended to conceive as she had been warned that pregnancy could endanger her life and also the health of the baby due to the medicines she took. In the end the pregnancy was unplanned. According to her doctors, around a hundred women worldwide with transplanted hearts have given birth.
Violin virtuoso and National Artist Josef Suk has been laid to rest in his family tomb in the Vyšehrad cemetery. The world-renowned musician died on July 7 at the age of 81 after a prolonged illness. Final respects were paid by the public in Prague’s Rudolfinum palace on Thursday. The burial was accompanied by Johan Sebastian Bach’s orchestral suite no 3. Among the speakers at the mass led by Cardinal Miroslav Vlk was President Václav Klaus, who noted that Josef Suk had brought world-wide fame not only to himself, but to his country. The great-grandson of Antonín Dvořák and grandson of composer Josef Suk is often credited with setting a standard for how Czech music is performed.
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