A senior Christian Democrat says the leaders of his party, the Social Democrats and ANO should meet early next week to discuss a joint position on a Communist-tabled vote to remove a law preventing those who collaborated with the pre-1989 secret police from holding high office. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka said on a TV debate show on Sunday that the other parties in the government had promised his Christian Democrats they would seek to preserve the current legislation. However, the Social Democrats and ANO have said they will not instruct their deputies on how to vote on the matter. The Christian Democrats said on Friday they would quit the coalition – which is set to seek confidence on February 18 – if the bill made it into a second reading.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, says he aims to fill vacant ambassadorial posts as soon as possible. He made the comments on a TV debate show on Sunday. The Czech Republic is currently lacking 11 ambassadors while the terms of another 32 are due to end before the end of this year. Mr. Zaorálek refused to rule out the possibility of Jan Fischer, a former interim prime minister and interim finance minister, becoming Czech envoy to Luxembourg. Mr. Fischer was for two years vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is based in the country.
Members of Danish school groups currently spending their term break in Prague are being given armbands indicating their age in order to prevent them being served alcohol if they are minors, Tomáš Hulan, a spokesperson for the Prague police, said on Sunday. Danish youths drank heavily, got into fights and destroyed hotel rooms at this time last year, with around 30 ending up in hospital. Danish police officers have come to Prague to help their local colleagues keep the teens in line. Students who are under 18 and take off their designated armbands with a view to deceiving bar staff would receive police attention, said Officer Hulan.
Over 1,000 people watched a free live screening of Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka live from the New York Metropolitan Opera on a Prague square on Saturday evening. Rusalka was the first Czech opera to feature in the popular series, which is beamed to cinemas and other venues around the world. A spokesperson for the company that runs such projections in the Czech Republic, Aerofilms, said the technical quality of the screening on Náměstí Republiky was below that achievable in a cinema but that they had attempted to create the best possible conditions for the open air event.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková has taken the silver medal in the women’s 3000m at the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi. The 26-year-old, who won gold at that distance at the last Games in Vancouver four years ago was only bettered on Sunday by Ireen Wuest of the Netherlands, the winner in Turin in 2006. Sáblíková’s success means the Czechs now have two medals, after Jaroslav Soukup’s bronze in the biathlon 10km sprint on Saturday.
Snowboarder Šárka Pančochová, regarded as one of the Czech Republic’s medal hopefuls before Sochi, finished fifth on Sunday in the slopestyle event, which was this year included in the Winter Olympics for the first time. Pančochová’s helmet was broken when she fell after badly while attempting a complicated 540 frontside jump.
The Czech Republic’s Fed Cup team will have to complete their first round tie against Spain on Monday, after rain caused complications in Seville. Only one rubber, in the singles, was played on Saturday and Sunday, with the Czechs’ Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová losing to Clara Suarez. The leading Czech women’s player Petra Kvitová pulled out due to illness.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, will visit Slovakia on Thursday in what the Czech News Agency said would be his first bilateral foreign trip since becoming head of government. Mr. Sobotka, who made a brief visit to Hungary for a Visegrad Four meeting soon after his government was appointed, will hold talks with his Slovak opposite number, Robert Fico of the left-leaning Smer, with whom he said he enjoyed long-term friendly relations. Mr. Sobotka said the two would discuss among other issues the holding of a joint session of both countries’ governments.
Mr. Sobotka will also visit Brussels before the end of February. His spokesman, Martin Ayrer, said on Saturday that the prime minister’s visit to the centre of the European Union would signal a turnaround in Czech policy with regard to the idea of further European integration. No details of the visit have been released, but it is likely Mr. Sobotka will go to Brussels soon after his government seeks confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on February 18.
The Czech House at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was officially opened on Saturday. The Czech Olympic HQ is considerably more modest than its equivalent at the London Summer Olympics, partly because 50,000 Czech live in the UK capital and none live in Sochi, the chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval, said at the official launch. The Czech House was opened by the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, and the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Dominik Duka.
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