The Czech Republic contributed 50 million CZK (2.3 million USD) towards reconstruction in Iraq last year, the Czech Foreign Ministry said. The projects included the rebuilding of an oil refinery in Basra and providing local people with the technology to produce clean drinking water. On Monday the government will discuss this year's aid for Iraq. Czech soldiers on the ground in the country have trained over 8,000 Iraqi police officers; their main duty at present is guarding an international base in Basra.
A 25-year-old man who was submerged underwater in his car for half an hour has regained consciousness, a hospital spokesperson in the north Moravian town of Orlova said. The man was no longer breathing and his heart had stopped beating when he was pulled out of a river nine days ago; rescue workers spent thirty minutes trying to revive him and doctors gave long odds against him regaining consciousness. He is now speaking and says he remembers the accident clearly.
Attacking Czechs is the national sport in Austria, the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said in an interview in Sunday's edition of Austria's Kurier. Mr Schwarzenberg told the newspaper he had no understanding of Austrian worries about the Czech Temelin nuclear power station, which he said was safer than reactors in Germany. He added that Austrians should reflect on how much of the energy their state imports is produced by nuclear reactors. Minister Schwarzenberg said Austrians and Czechs were in the habit of arguing in the style of close family members, and that attacking Czechs had become the national sport in Austria. Vienna has frequently called for Temelin to be closed down, saying it is unsafe.
The minister of culture, Vaclav Jehlicka, has threatened to resign if his ministry does not receive more funding next year. Speaking on a TV debate show, Mr Jehlicka said he did not accept the post in order to become a "minister receiver" and had, on the contrary, promised to increase spending. The proposed state budget has earmarked 6.7 billion crowns for the arts in 2008, around 1.2 billion less than this year.
Over 100,000 people visited museums and galleries around Prague on Saturday during an annual event entitled Museum Night. Twenty-one institutions - including the new Museum of Charles Bridge- opened their doors, free of charge, at 7 pm special free buses ferried people between the museums and galleries.
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, has said he believes a key
European Union summit next week will reach agreement on the outlines of a
new treaty on running the 27-member organisation. Speaking after talks
near Berlin on Sunday with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Mr
Topolanek said Prague would only veto efforts to revive the same
constitution French and Dutch voters rejected two years ago.
The Czech prime minister also restated his country's desire to see some powers returned from Brussels to member states. On Thursday the Czech Republic sent a proposal to fellow member states aimed at increasing the powers of national parliaments. However, it stopped short of proposing that national governments be allowed to completely block European legislation.
Czech leaders have consistently expressed reservations about any EU constitution. Prague is also supporting Poland's fight to prevent bigger states losing some voting rights.
A group of artists infiltrated the broadcasting of Czech Television on Sunday morning, superimposing a nuclear mushroom cloud on live shots of a scenic area in east Bohemia. A spokesperson for Czech TV said the station would take action against the group Ztohoven, who added their own internet address to the doctored images. They managed to sabotage the programme Panorama by tampering with a TV camera at Cerny Dul in the Krkonose Mountains.
In related news, Saturday's edition of Lidove Noviny contains an interview with the woman in Copenhagen claiming to be Barbara Skrlova. In the interview she admits to having pretended to be Anna, the stepsister of Ondrej, the seven-year-old boy at the centre of the abuse case, but that another girl had stood in for her when DNA tests were being done during police investigations. She told the paper that she had hidden in a forest after escaping from the children's home where she had been staying before taking a train to Denmark. She also said she did not want to return to the Czech Republic as she was afraid of how people would react to her behaviour. Lidove noviny said that during the interview Skrlova acted like a child and seemed much younger than thirty two. She also bizarrely referred to both Anna and Barbara Skrlova in the third person.
Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych has progressed to the final of the ATP Halle tournament in Germany. The twenty-one-year-old beat Finnish player Jarkka Nieminen in straight sets 7:6 a 6:4 in Saturday's first semi-final. He will now play either Phillipe Kohlschreiber or Marcos Baghdatis on Sunday for the third title of his career and prize money worth 96,000 US dollars.